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'We just didn't play': Red Wings can't hold lead, lose to Blue Jackets

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Columbus, Ohio — The Red Wings didn't start this four-game trip the way they wanted to at all.

After taking the lead, the Wings allowed three Columbus goals in 4 minutes 15 seconds and lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-3.

Zach Werenski (Grosse Pointe/Michigan), scoring at 18 minutes, 41 seconds of the third period, broke the tie, then Alexandre Texier scored into an empty net to cap the scoring.

Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski, right, controls the puck in front of Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Lucas Raymond gave the Wings a 3-2 lead at 13:31, the rookie's seventh goal, but Columbus roared back, with rookie Yegor Chinakhov tying the score with his first NHL goal at 15:42, on a breakaway.

The Wings fell to 8-7-2 with a game Tuesday in Dallas.

"Our first (period) was good, then after that, I didn't think we played good enough hockey," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We were fortunate to have the lead. Now we had it, but we made a couple of mistakes and next thing you know, it slips away from you.

"But we have to play better hockey than we've been playing."

Blashill didn't like in Monday's game — as he hasn't for much of this season — the number of scoring chances the Wings are allowing.

BOX SCORE: Blue Jackets 5, Red Wings 3

"We got away with it a little bit and won a few games in the last little bit, but haven't played good enough and we're giving up too many chances," Blashill said. "We have to be a better team defensively if we want to have success."

Tyler Bertuzzi found Raymond alone near the left hashmarks, and Raymond snapped a one-timer past goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, giving the Wings a 3-2 lead.

But Columbus, as resilient as usual, stormed right back. Chinakhov scored his first NHL goal, getting an outlet pass from Jakub Voracek and scoring a breakaway goal on Greiss at 15:42.

From there, the Wings disintegrated, primarily defensively.

"When we got the lead, we didn't keep our foot on the gas and keep playing and keep making it hard on them," forward Dylan Larkin said. "Teams are too good to play half a game. You have to play a full 60 minutes."

What frustrated Larkin was the lack of earning points in the standings in a game the Wings appeared to have put away.

"We gave up points," Larkin said. "For us to be a good team we have to learn to put this game away. We got another chance, up 3-2, and we don't come away with any point and it's frustrating right now.

"We just didn't play. We didn't put them away and continue to play our game. We made it far too easy for them."

The Wings appeared to be in control after goals from Larkin and Michael Rasmussen gave them a 2-0 lead early in the second period.

Rasmussen's goal, at the time, seemed a potential game-changer for the Wings.

Vladislav Namestnikov rushed the puck up ice and left a pass for Rasmussen, who lifted a shot from near the top of the circle that handcuffed Merzlikins and somehow got through into the net for Rasmussen's first goal this season.

Larkin opened the scoring with his seventh goal on a another great feed from Raymond.

Raymond (who earned his 10th assist) got his stick on a puck and forced a Columbus turnover, gathered the puck, and somehow found Larkin open with a pass through the slot. Larkin had a yawning net to shoot past Merzlikins.

"They had moments of playing well and they gave up a couple of goals, too," said Blashill of this top line of Larkin, Raymond and Bertuzzi. "They had moments of playing well, but again, they're expected to and they and like everybody else, can be better."

Greiss was superb in the second period, keeping Columbus off the scoreboard on two consecutive Jackets power plays, preserving the 2-0 lead. But Columbus finally broke through with two quick goals from Boone Jenner and Adam Boqvist late in the period.

Jenner batted a loose puck near the crease to cut it to 2-1 at 13:07, then Greiss kicked out a long shot by Chinakhov but left the rebound near the post and Boqvist, skating through, tapped the puck past Greiss at 14:55.

Raymond regained the lead for the Wings, but somehow, the Wings again let it slip away.

"You get the lead late you have to buckle down and at the very least, make them earn it," Blashill said. "In those last two goals they didn't have to really earn it, we kind of gave it away. We have to be way better than that. You get the lead at under the six minute mark, no way should you come away out of it without at least a point and most nights two (points).

"We talk about learning lessons while we're winning, but sometimes you have to get slapped in the face and we got slapped in the face tonight."

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan