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Wings fans chant 'Fire Blashill' after falling 5-2 to Senators

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings' slide continues, be it against playoff teams or rebuilding ones.

The Wings lost 5-2 Friday to the Ottawa Senators, a team similar to the Wings in rebuilding and playing out the string.

But it was the Senators who looked more impressive in this game. They had more energy, were better on specialty teams and deserved the victory.

The Wings are mired in a funk right now and are having difficulty escaping.

"You have to dig yourself out of it, it doesn't get any easier," forward Sam Gagner said. "You go through stretches in a season and in your career where things are difficult But as I've said before, adversity is a great teacher and you have to learn from it regardless of how you're feeling."

The Wings (26-33-9) have lost nine of their last 11 games (2-6-3) and there aren't many games in the final 14 that are considered as winnable as maybe Friday's was. The Wings will be tested until the bitter end.

"There's an emotional drain, and that's the reality," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We can't let that happen. We have a decision on how we want to attack every day and certainly its frustrating, there's a downer to it, there's an emotional drain, but we can't allow that to happen.

"We have to find a way to get that joy back in our game and play with more energy."

Josh Norris (Oxford/Michigan), on the power play, and Mathieu Joseph scored 1 minute 11 seconds apart early in the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie.

Ottawa Senators right wing Mathieu Joseph (21) celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period.

Joseph added another goal later in the period, before Lucas Raymond scored his second goal of the game cutting Ottawa's lead to 4-2.

Joseph completed his third-period hat trick (and 11th goal) with an empty-net goal, making it 5-2.

At that point, the "Fire Blashill" chant became noticeable from the sparse crowd that remained at Little Caesars Arena.

Ottawa goalie Mads Sogaard made his NHL debut and stopped 27 shots to earn the victory.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings vs. Senators

The Wings made life easy for Sogaard, not putting nearly enough pressure.

"Not nearly enough," Gagner said. "Anytime a goalie is playing his first game, especially in the first period, you want to get some shots on him and get some traffic on him and try to make it harder on him early. We just allowed him to settle in too much."

Norris scored his 27th goal to break the tie, after the Wings squandered a two-man advantage then a power play when Raymond was penalized for tripping.

Norris got the puck near the left dot, with Ottawa on its power play, and whistled a nice set up by Erik Brannstrom past goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Gustav Lindstrom (28) defends Ottawa Senators left wing Alex Formenton (10) in the third period.

"He's a great goal scorer," said coach Jeff Blashill of Norris after Friday's morning skate. "He's been a great goal scorer everywhere he's gone and he's just continued into the NHL.

"Speaking to our guys (Friday morning), we talked about how we have to do a good job of not giving him much space and make sure we have stick on puck, not allowing him to get his shot off. When he shoots it, it has a good percentage of going in. He's that kind of goal scorer."

Joseph extended the lead to 3-1 at 3:36. Tyler Ennis shoveled a pass into the slot in front of Nedeljkovic, and Joseph eluded Gustav Lindstrom to snap a quick shot past Nedeljkovic.

Joseph then scored at 13:19, sniping a shot from just above the hashmarks.

The Wings were 0-for-5 on the power play, including beginning the first 33 seconds of the third period with a two-man advantage. Ottawa was one-for-two on the power play, and scored a shorthanded goal.

"It's a huge factor," said Blashill of the specialty teams. 

More: How struggling Wings forward Filip Zadina is learning to do more with less ice time

Raymond cut Ottawa's lead to 4-2 at 13:59, redirecting a feed in the slot from Filip Hronek for his 22nd goal, and opened the Wings' scoring, tying the game 1-1 early in the second period.

With the goal, Raymond became just the fourth Wings' player to reach the 50-point mark in a single season before the age of 21, joining Marcel Dionne, Mark Osborne and Steve Yzerman.

Austin Watson (Ann Arbor) added a shorthanded goal for the Senators, opening the game's scoring.

With the Wings on the power play, Joseph carried the puck into the zone and found Watson in the slot. Watson snapped a shot that cleanly beat Nedeljkovic for Watson's fourth goal, at 5:07.

Detroit Red Wings left wing Adam Erne (73) shoots as Ottawa Senators' Nikita Zaitsev (22) defends in the second period.

But Nedeljkovic kept it a one-goal game despite Ottawa out-shooting the Wings 13-6 in the opening 20 minutes, and the Wings tied it quickly in the second period.

Raymond and Jake Walman skated on a two-on-one rush, and Walman lined a shot that Sogaard got a piece off, but let the puck squirm free into the crease. Raymond stormed in and poked the loose puck for his 21st goal, at 2:18.

But the Wings' inability to convert on the power play, and Ottawa capitalizing on its opportunities, proved to be the difference in another disappointing Wings' loss.

"You have to go out and play and do your best and give your best effort," Gagner said. "We have to work your way out of it."


Twitter: @tkulfan

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