Listless offense continues to haunt Red Wings in 2-0 loss to Nashville

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Take two hockey teams who've had a season-long struggle to win games or score goals and what do you have?

A game such as Tuesday's Red Wings' game against Nashville, a 2-0 Predators victory that will not be on many highlight shows for its dazzling offense.

Nashville scored two power play goals in the third period, snapping a 0-0 tie, and sending the Predators to a much-needed win (8-10-0).

"You can't win if your don't score and we had some good looks," forward Dylan Larkin said. "But we weren't hungry enough around their net and they scored on their power plays. That was the story."

After Tuesday's shutout, the Wings are ranked last in the NHL in goals per game (1.86) and the power play (6.4%), and their 39 goals scored ranks 29th of 31 teams.

With the maturation of some skilled offensive forwards, and veteran additions, it was expected to be a better offensive attack. 

But it hasn't come around yet.

Nashville defenseman Matt Benning and Detroit center Vladislav Namestnikov battle for the puck in the first period during a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators, at Little Caesars Arena, in Detroit, February 23, 2021.

"You want to score and have the puck on your stick to make plays," Larkin said. "We've played good defense and we've had great goaltending, but to win games you have to score goals and we didn't tonight.

"It's frustrating, but you have to shoot pucks and we have to find a way to get the power play going. Everyone wants to score goals, we have to score goals."

Nashville's Filip Forsberg scored a power play goal, his ninth goal, 4:36 into the third period — it actually went off the stick of Wings defenseman Marc Staal — giving the Predators the 1-0 lead.

Then Eeli Tolvanen made it 2-0 with his second goal at the 9:57 mark, with a blast from the dot.

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Predators goalie Pekka Rinne stopped all 24 shots, outlasting the Wings' Jonathan Bernier (31 saves).

"He gave us a chance to win that game and we didn't go out and score goals," Larkin said. "We didn't go out there and grab these points like we should have."

The Wings fell to 5-13-3 and have dropped six of their last eight.

"We were fine structurally, we were fine how we played, but our individual players' execution and battle level wasn't good enough," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We needed to execute better. The battle level was fine, but if we're not close to 100% range, we're putting ourselves in position to win hockey games.

"We tried to make plays that weren't there, and that bogged us down. We were disconnected as a group of five for whatever reason."

So both teams are concentrating on defense-first, and winning games with a mentality of stopping the other team and capitalizing on precious scoring opportunities.

The Predators were just a little better utilizing the formula.

Nashville appeared to take a 1-0 lead late in the second period on a Forsberg goal, but it was reversed after video review.

While Forsberg was cutting through the slot on an odd-man rush, Nashville forward Mikael Granlund dragged his foot and nudged Bernier, who was also leveled by teammate Adam Erne, who was barreling toward the net.

Forsberg scored a nice goal, but the Wings quickly challenged and officials overturned the goal, keeping the game 0-0.

From a defensive standpoint, the Wings were more than acceptable. It's just an anemic offensive attack that cost them yet again this season.

"We don't score enough, and we didn't make it hard enough on him (Rinne)," Larkin said. "We had some good looks, but not many second or third opportunities. There weren't many times we hemmed their team in the zone and made it difficult to defend."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan