Red Wings see win streak come to end in 5-1 loss to Penguins

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

The Red Wings aren't going to win every exhibition game this preseason after all.

Pittsburgh made sure of that with a 5-1 victory Sunday over the Wings at PPG Paints Arena, ending the Wings' three-game win streak.

The Penguins' John Marino (6) collides with Red Wings forward Robby Fabbri (14) during the first period Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Pius Suter (power play) scored on a two-man advantage at 15:46 of the first period.

Otherwise it was the Penguins who dominated for most of the afternoon, with Kasperi Kapanen (two goals), Jeff Carter, Kris Letang and Danton Heinen scoring goals.

"They had a good lineup for certain," coach Jeff Blashill said. "They're missing (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin, so that's two huge pieces and (Jake) Guentzel is out, so they have some pieces that are missing but they did have a fairly solid lineup. We didn't play well enough.

"They do a good job of transitioning offense and I didn't think we did a good enough job handling that. I didn't think we got our shots through. We had opportunities to create more offense and we didn't get our shots through. 

"It was just a night we weren't good enough."

Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 19 of 23 shots in 35 minutes of action, before Victor Brattstrom finished up.

"(Nedeljkovic) will be real good for us, he works his tail off," Blashill said. "Tonight he had some squeak through I'm sure that he'd like back. But, guys, this is what the preseason is for. I don't pass judgement on anybody in this short period of time. He's played two halves. I'm fully confident he'll give us good goaltending through the season."

Rookie forward Jonatan Berggren made his debut after missing the start of the exhibition schedule because of an injury suffered in the prospects tournament. Berggren played 13 minutes 32 seconds with one shot on net.

"He has a lot of ability," Blashill said. "It'll be an adjustment to the small sheet (of ice) and to get to the inside, but it was good to get him in (to a game)."

Rasmussen out

Forward Michael Rasmussen was scheduled to play Sunday but was held out.

Blashill said Rasmussen "had a little tweak", so the decision was made to keep Rasmussen off the ice.

Rasmussen had been centering Adam Erne and Vladimir Namestnikov in what was looking as a promising unit.

"I don't know that we'll see him in these next few games," Rasmussen said. "I don't think it's anything long term, but we'll take it day by day.

"This is kind of the way this season will go. There will be times where you miss guys and you have to find good chemistry where you can."

Blashill said forward Tyler Bertuzzi, returning from back surgery, will not play Monday. Bertuzzi has yet to play this preseason.

"I don't have an answer for that today," Blashill said of when Bertuzzi might be returning. "It's day by day. I'll let you know when he makes his debut, but right now, he's not in (Monday)"

Larkin debut

Dylan Larkin made his exhibition debut during Saturday's 5-1 victory over Columbus.

Larkin had two power-play goals and assisted on Joe Veleno's power-play goal, while centering a line with Lucas Raymond and Filip Zadina. 

Larkin admitted there were nerves in his first game since April 20. That night, Larkin took a stick to the back of the neck by Dallas' Jamie Benn after a face-off.

"I'm not gonna lie to you guys, I was nervous today," Larkin said. "I had jitters to play.

I was excited but when the puck dropped I was nervous, not to get injured, just to play hockey. It had been a long road. I couldn’t believe already that much time had gone by and I was playing hockey again.”

Early in the recovery, Larkin spent a couple nights in a hospital. There was also a lengthy period where Larkin couldn't do any sort of training.

Saturday's game was a relief on many levels, and Larkin was thankful for it.

“It was hard, challenging,” said Larkin, of his rehabilitation. “I have to again, give a thank you to our training staff and our doctors and my teammates that helped me and the trainers with me every day, all summer working. They were with me every step of the way and every doctor’s appointment and every day at the hospital. I can’t thank them enough, how they helped me get back to this.

"But definitely it's a perspective of I’m going to just play hockey and enjoy every day.”

Raymond impresses

Lucas Raymond had two assists Saturday, including some great feeds to Larkin on the power play.

“Lucas hit some great seam passes, and a couple times I was waiting for them and sure enough, right when I was open most, he hit me, so that was very impressive,” Larkin said.  "He's got a swagger to his game. He's a smart, headsy hockey player. He waits and waits, then it's right on your tape."

If anything, Raymond is forcing coach Jeff Blashill and the front office to make a difficult decision whether to keep Raymond on the opening night roster or send him to Grand Rapids.

"All he can do is face the challenges that he's facing, and so far he's done a good job," Blashill said.

Blackhawks at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: The teams meet for the second time during this exhibition season. ... The Red Wings won the first game, 4-3, in a shootout. ...This will be a third game in three nights for the Wings.

Twitter: @tkulfan