The scenario is getting entirely too familiar.
The Detroit Red Wings continued a now weeks-old habit of not putting together the sort of energetic, creative and hard-nosed performance needed to win. They lost for the sixth time in seven games Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, falling to the Ottawa Senators 3-1. For the second straight game, the Wings allowed an empty-netter, reflecting their desperation to try to tie the score at the end.
The Wings are on a 1-5-1 slide, with their last solid all-around performance dating to the third game of the season, and their last victory to a week ago. During the past seven games, the Wings have netted just 12 goals.
“It is frustrating,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “After the first three games, this has gone downhill pretty fast. We have bits and pieces here and there where we are showing what we can do, but our lowest level has got to be way higher than this.”
A big issue has been that Zetterberg and Dylan Larkin are the two skaters who stand out for their superior play – Zetterberg’s power play goal was his 12th point in 10 games, and Larkin twice got the Wings two-man advantages.
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) stops a Ottawa Senators right wing Alex Chiasson (90) shot in the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
“In order to be a good team, we are going to need depth of scoring,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “So we need way more guys contributing on the score sheet. I thought some guys took steps in the right direction, but we still need more. Part of that is the determination to get to the net-front, part of that is to get seconds, but ultimately we need more results from more guys.”
Jimmy Howard faced 34 shots to 30 for Senators goalie Andrew Hammond. The Wings have been outshot in five of the last seven games.
“We just have to get back to keeping it simple and making the right decisions out there,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I thought the energy level was pretty good, but the power play needs to get better. We need to have less turnovers.”
The teams meet again Saturday in Ottawa. Petr Mrazek is scheduled to start.
After an unimpressive first few shifts, the Wings got skating in Ottawa’s zone and took a rare lead in shots. Justin Abdelkader had a clean shot denied.
Howard helped kill a penalty with three saves, including gloving a blaster from the blue line. Turnovers continued to be a problem, with Kronwall guilty of a couple in the first period alone.
Kyle Turris put the Senators up a goal at 18:46, when he knocked a loose puck into the net before Danny DeKeyser could clear.
The Wings got to start the second period with 1:14 left on a power play, but only managed one shot on Hammond. A second power play materialized two minutes later, and Larkin drew a second penalty to create a 25-second 5-on-3. Yet the Wings couldn’t get things going, and at one point Howard had to make a stop during the man advantage.
“We had a lot of chances on the power play today, and to win games, when you get that many opportunities, that was a big part,” Gustav Nyquist said. “We need to do a better job on the power play.
“It is frustrating right now. We are not generating enough goals. Through 10 games, most of the time, Hank’s line has been carrying us. Us other guys, we have to do a better job of stepping up.”
It got worse at the game’s mid-point, when Matt Puempel put the Senators up by two. The Wings caught a break when an Erik Karlsson slap shot clanked off a post.
A fourth power play came Detroit’s way with five minutes to go in the second period. Larkin was able to draw another penalty, this time giving the Wings 1:07 with two extra skaters.
The reward was Zetterberg’s goal 23 seconds later, when he grabbed Teemu Pulkkinen’s rebound and found a hole just before Hammond closed his left skate to the goal post.
The Wings had to start the third period killing a penalty, hampering their offensive efforts. The Senators continued to attack, too, and slowed the Wings as they tried to gain zone entry. Abdelkader was denied on a net-front attempt, as he backhanded the puck at Hammond near the period’s midpoint. With four minutes to go, the Wings were being outshot, 14-5 in the third period.
“I thought there was a want and a will,” Blashill said, “but we still have to be more determined.”
It was, of course, Zetterberg who got the sixth shot, when he attempted a wraparound with three minutes to play.
Bobby Ryan scored for Ottawa in the game’s final minute.
Contact Helene St. James: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.