Red Wings look to shake goal-scoring funk

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Remember the good ole days when the Red Wings scored goals and won some games?

No, not years ago, but just a couple of weeks back, when during a 10-game span from Feb. 25 to March 18, the Wings scored 32 goals. They scored six goals in a game, and five in two consecutive games to open the stretch.

Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) moves the puck in front Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro (57) during the first period Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee.

They averaged 3.2 goals during that stretch and had a 5-4-1 record.

Now, the Wings are coming off back-to-back shutout losses, including Tuesday’s 2-0 blanking by the Nashville Predators.

The Red Wings have gone 130 minutes, 55 seconds without a goal entering Thursday’s game in Nashville.

The last time they scored? Robby Fabbri completed a hat trick in a 3-2 victory last Thursday over the Stars, scoring at the 9:05 mark of the third period.

If it feels like it's been awhile, you're right.

"I don't think we're generating enough," forward Dylan Larkin said. "I don't think we're hard enough to play against, making teams defend. I don't think we're making it hard on the other team's goalies (not) getting around the net and making him make saves.

“We didn’t make it hard on Saros. We didn’t even get very many dangerous looks on him and make him have to make reactionary saves. Everything was kind of in his chest.”

Interestingly, the two goals Nashville scored Tuesday were exactly the type of goals the Red Wings aspire to score.

More: NHL bans referee after he said he 'wanted' to call penalty in Wings-Predators game

A deflection on the power play (Mikael Granlund tipped Roman Josi’s shot from the high slot), and Mathieu Olivier jamming a rebound. Both were gritty goals, with players getting to the net, being around the net, and being rewarded for getting to those prime areas of the ice.

The Wings never really came close to matching those goals, and had trouble skating through Nashville’s mucky defensive style all evening.

That’s another area that’ll need adjusting for Thursday’s end of the two-game series.

"We bogged ourselves down with poor puck execution and management," coach Jeff Blashill said. "They're one of the best forechecking teams in the league statistically, we have them as the best, and we did a poor job of being quick out of our zone. We slowed ourselves down and didn't get pucks behind them.

“Then they’re in a 1-3-1 (defensive formation) in the neutral zone and we played too slow, we had to maneuver through that, and we turned too many pucks over.”

Before heading into this week's games, the Wings talked about the opportunity to earn some wins and move up in the standings, and out of the division cellar. Nashville is a team directly in front of the Wings (in terms of win percentage) and a team the Wings have played well against this season.

At this point, winning a game and scoring some goals are both things that would improve the mood around the locker room and quickly curb growing frustration.

"It's very important for us," said Larkin, of advancing in the standings. "Just important to win, that makes life a whole lot better, makes the locker room and coming to the rink fun. It makes hockey fun. We want to win and know what we have to do, give ourselves a chance every night.

"We need to get back to that soon and see what can happen. Catch teams (in the standings) or spoil some seasons, whatever it may be, we need to do."

Red Wings at Predators

Faceoff: 8 p.m. Thursday, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Red Wings (10-19-4) and Predators (15-17-1) conclude a two-game series in Nashville. … Predators G Juuse Saros (7-6-0, 2.58 GAA, .919 SVS) has rebounded from a slow start this season.

Twitter: @tkulfan