Red Wings' snowball of futility keeps rolling downward, skid hits 6 after 2-1 loss to Avalanche

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit  — The Red Wings began a stretch of their final 15 games of the regular season Monday — the toughest schedule in the NHL, based on opponents’ records.

So, chances are, the Wings are going to close out the season much the way this entire season has already gone — with plenty of losses.

It certainly started that way Monday, as the Wings lost 2-1 to the Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado right wing Logan O'Connor celebrates his breakaway goal on Detroit goaltender Jonathan Bernier in the second period.

The Wings didn’t get much of an offensive attack going — a familiar refrain this season — getting outshot 27-18, including a measly four shots in the first period and six in the second.

But overall, the quality of chances the Wings had, plus the type of defensive game they played, it was an evening they weren’t entirely disappointed about.

“We didn’t give them any opportunities to score, we played solid the second and third periods, we were in their zone, and we had a lot of Grade-A chances,” said Anthony Mantha, who scored the lone Wings’ goal and led with six shots on net. “We’re trying to move forward. We played good. We had great Grade-A chances all over the place. 

“We need to keep the grind going and finish the season the way we played tonight.”

Mantha's 15th goal opened the scoring. But Mantha was frustrated on several other chances.

“He was involved with most of our chances,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “His center (Dylan Larkin) was excellent, too. I challenged that line to go against the (Nathan) MacKinnon line for a lot of the night, and that line did a good job.”

Vladislav Namestinikov and Logan O’Connor had Avalanche goals, while goaltender Michael Hutchinson stopped 17 shots to win in his debut with Colorado (acquired at the trade deadline).

“I liked our compete, the way we stuck together, the way we battled,” Larkin said. “It’s a fun game to play against a team like that. We were playing well defensively and Bernie (goaltender Jonathan Bernier) handled everything in front of him. It’s a close game we feel could have gone either way.

“We just have to find a way to generate more shots and make it harder on the goalie over there.”

The Wings went on the power play at 14:14 of the third period when Colorado was called for too many men on the ice. But, again, there wasn't enough sustained pressure, and the Wings completed an 0-for-4 evening with the man advantage.

The Wings pulled Bernier (25 saves) with two minutes left in the game, and Sam Gagner had a scoring opportunity right after coming off the bench, near the hash marks, that Hutchinson stopped.

O’Connor’s goal broke a 1-1 tie at 14:31 of the second period.

Gabriel Landeskog, who shook off a Robby Fabbri check, found O’Connor breaking in alone and the Calgary native beat Bernier for his second goal.

“That second goal, it’s off a change so we lose the guy on the change and it’s right after a huge hit by Fabs, and Fabs played real well in the second and third (periods) that way,” Blashill said.

The loss extended the Wings’ (15-48-5) winless streak to six games, and 10 of their last 11 games.

The Avalanche (40-18-7) are going the other direction, winning their seventh consecutive game overall and ninth straight road victory (a franchise record).

“We were ready to play and it’s something we have to build off of,” Larkin said. “If we play like that down the stretch, we’ll have a lot of fun and win some games and be a closer group because of it.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan