Forward Dylan Larkin discusses the Red Wings' recent struggles. The Detroit News
Pittsburgh — This was definitely one of those days, if you were watching the Red Wings, that you wonder how many more days are left.
How many more games — 21, mercifully — before this entire of a mess of a season is done.
The Red Wings closed out a miserable four-game road trip Sunday with another ugly 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
That’s four straight losses, and stretching it out a bit, only two wins over the last 16 games for the Wings (14-43-4).
“It shows a lot about people’s character, guys’ character,” forward Luke Glendening said of muddling through this stretch of the schedule. “It’s easy to be happy and do things the right way when things are going well; it’s harder when things are going poorly.
“It’s easy to point fingers, we’re all part of the problem. We have to dig within ourselves and see how we can part of the solution.”
Nothing went right in this one, just as did not for the entire week along the East Coast.
After Valtteri Filppula scored his fifth goal, on a nice give-and-go with Tyler Bertuzzi, that gave the Wings a 1-0 lead at 5:37 of the first period, it all went downhill again.
Just as it did the day before against Boston, when the Bruins scored four unanswered goals — the Penguins did one better, with five unanswered.
“We were playing OK and competing, and it’s kind of like when they get one (goal), we have a hard time stopping them and it turns into four (goals) quickly,” Glendening said.
The Wings out-shot the Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period — Pittsburgh had 35-28 advantage at game’s end — and while the score didn’t flatter the Wings, coach Jeff Blashill didn’t feel the score was indicative of the game.
Veteran forward Luke Glendening discusses the Red Wings' 5-1 loss Sunday in Pittsburgh. The Detroit News
“We came out and played with the puck a lot more, we played hard, we competed, structurally we were pretty good,” Blashill said. “We didn’t score with our chances. They scored with their chances.
“Sometimes the score indicates a game, sometimes it doesn’t and I don’t think it did (Sunday). We had chances. We didn’t score, and they scored, and that’s the difference in the game.”
Patric Hornqvist had two goals, and Sam Lafferty, Kris Letang (power play) and Sidney Crosby had the others, as the Penguins rolled.
Goalie Jimmy Howard started but couldn’t finish the second period, allowing four goals on 16 shots and watching his record fall to a startling 2-22-2.
“I made the decision to pull him,” Blashill said.
Jonathan Bernier relieved Howard and allowed a goal on 19 shots.
The Wings didn’t have a power play, and mounted little offensive threat.
Many of the Wings’ offensive threats — the few there are — have lately gone quiet.
Bertuzzi’s assist Sunday gives him three points (goal, two assists) in the last 11 games, Robby Fabbri has two assists in the last eight games, Andreas Athanasiou (three goals in eight games), Dylan Larkin (two goals, assist in nine games), and Anthony Mantha, who returned Tuesday from an extended injury, was noticeable in the two weekend games.
“I just don’t think we have sustained offense, where we’re in the (offensive) zone and cycling (the puck) and creating real looks,” Larkin said. “We had some (chances Sunday) for sure, but we need to wear teams down.”
Said Blashill: “We haven’t scored at all coming out of the All-Star break (14 goals in 10 games, two wins), we haven’t scored at all, (but) if we play like that with the puck — and we weren’t perfect, did we make mistakes, of course we did — we played with the puck way more, we competed hard and we just have to score.”
The Wings lost defenseman Filip Hronek in the second period when Hronek, one of the few bright spots this season, was hit by a Marcus Pettersson slap shot on the side of the head.
Blashill had no further update after the game regarding Hronek’s availability for Tuesday’s game against Montreal.