Red Wings fall behind early, can't catch Chicago in wild 8-5 loss
Detroit — The Red Wings' rivalry with the Chicago Blackhawks isn't nearly what it used to be.
But the Blackhawks earned a measure of revenge Wednesday in a wild 8-5 victory over the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
The Wings (18-19-6) saw their winless streak stretched to three games, and losses in seven of their last nine games.
The Wings blasted Chicago 6-3 in October, in a game that was more one-sided than the score indicated.
In the only other game these teams will play this season, it was Chicago that was the better team, but just barely.
"We had too many guys not even close to their 'A' game and when you do that, you're going to have tough nights," coach Jeff Blashill said. "When you're not on your game and you're competitive and trying to get back into it, and force your way into it, that's not the way it works.
"You can't force things. In the end, you have to take what is given and that's the reality of it. You have to play the right kind of hockey. If we want to take steps as a team as we go through this second half of the season, we have to manage it way better than that."
The Wings cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-3, but the Blackhawks got goals from Dylan Strome (his third of the game) and Alex DeBrincat (Farmington Hills) early in the third period to regain a three-goal lead (6-3).
But goals from Moritz Seider (power play) and Dylan Larkin (his 20th goal) 3:22 apart late in the third period, made it a one-goal game again, 6-5.
The Red Wings pressed, but an errant Nick Leddy pass landed on the stick of Brandon Hagel, who scored his 11th goal, at 16:13, giving Chicago a 7-5 lead. DeBrincat added an empty-net goal, his 26th and second of the game, to close out the ample scoring.
"It's nice to score goals, and we scored five, but you can't trade offense for offense against," defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. "It's hard to win 6-5 or 7-6 in this league. You have to be good in the defensive zone and the penalty kill, take care of your own zone first. There are too many good players in this league (that can score goals)."
Strome's third goal of the night, his second on the power play, at 6 minutes 10 seconds of the third period gave Chicago a 5-3 lead.
With Pius Suter in the penalty box for the third time, this time for hooking, Chicago defenseman Seth Jones gathered the puck near the top of the slot, took a few strides to his right and lifted a shot that Strome got his stick on and redirected past goaltender Calvin Pickard.
It was Strome's seventh goal of the season.
DeBrincat scored his 25th at 8:55, converting a 2-on-1 pass from Jonathan Toews.
Chicago goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots to earn the win.
Seider cut the lead back to 6-4 at 12:05 with Seider's fourth goal, on the power play. Seider one-timed a pass from Lucas Raymond from the high slot, eluding Fleury.
Larkin fired his 20th goal at 15:27, cutting the Chicago lead to 6-5 and again sparking thoughts of an improbable comeback.
"We had plenty of time to win a hockey game," said Blashill of the team's mindset after trailing early. "There are two messages (at that point). One, is what is acceptable for us as hockey team and if we do it right, we have a chance to win. You just have to start by playing the right way."
Blashill talked after the morning skate about how special this matchup is for fans of the Original Six.
"There's no doubt when you play a team like Chicago, it's special, any of the Original Six teams," Blashill said. "With the geographical proximity and that plays into it as well, but also when you play that has Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, it's a cool thing. They have a number of guys, Marc-Andre Fleury, that are going to be Hall of Fame players, so that add a little bit to the spice of the game."
Robby Fabbri (his 12th goal), Tyler Bertuzzi (20th) and Suter (10th) — the entirely constructed new second line — scored second-period goals, cutting a 4-0 deficit to 4-3.
"They got us energized and got the team going," DeKeyser said.
Fabbri started the rally, receiving an ill-advised blind pass out of the corner by defenseman Calvin de Haan. Fabbri drove to the net, got Fleury out of position, and scored at 5:45, giving the Wings life.
Bertuzzi scored 56 seconds later, making it 4-2. Bertuzzi snapped a shot that Fleury failed left a juicy rebound, and Bertuzzi quickly pounced on the puck and flipped it into the net for his 20th goal.
Suter, whom the Blackhawks are likely wondering why they let go last summer, got the puck in the high slot and saw Fleury was screened by several bodies. Suter snapped a shot high corner that Fleury barely reacted on, making it 4-3 with only 13 seconds remaining in the period.
The first period, by comparison, was dominated by Chicago.
The Blackhawks scored four goals on 16 shots at goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who was replaced by Pickard to begin the second period.
Strome scored two goals (one on the power play), Dominik Kubalik and Sam Lafferty had Blackhawks goals in the opening 20 minutes.
"You never want to give up eight goals in a night," DeKeyser said. "For sure you can't win doing that. We have to shore things up back there and take care of the puck."