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Four Takeaways: Red Wings Canadiens Clubbed Again In Montreal



Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings
Alex Nedeljkovi made 38 saves in a losing cause as the Red Wings fell 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens.

During the 2019-20 season, the Detroit Red Wings won an NHL-low 17 games. Four of those wins came against the Montreal Canadiens.

This season, the Canadiens have won an NHL Eastern Conference-low three games. Two of those victories have come at the expense of the Red Wings.

Minus Tyler Bertuzzi (COVID-19 suspension) and captain Dylan Larkin (personal reasons), the rest of the Wings looked as though they’d granted the two points to Montreal in pre-ordained fashion during a 3-0 shutout defeat on Tuesday at the Bell Centre.

Montreal had the momentum. The Red Wings, if there is such a thing, had no-mentum.

Here are four takeways from Detroit’s third straight loss (0-2-1).

Red Wings Were A Day Late And A Dollar Short

Montreal fired 16 shots on goal in the first period. The Habs grabbed a 2-0 lead and for all intents and purposes, the game was over.

“They were better than us from the drop of the puck, obviously, the first shift all the way to the last shift,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “They played like it was a playoff game, we played like it was an exhibition game. That isn’t even close to what we need to do to be successful. We weren’t even in the hemisphere of what we need to do.”

The Red Wings mustered up just 10 shots over the last two periods and three during the final frame. There was never even remotely a sense that they were even going to mount a challenge for Montreal to beat back.

“We have to be a team that plays every night like it is a playoff game,” Blashill said. “Our battle level has to be way higher, our compete level has to be way higher, out work ethic has to be better in all those facets of the game. We weren’t even close.”

Catch-Up Hockey Catching Up To Red Wings

The long-held theory in the game is that catch-up hockey is losing hockey. Attempting to continually rally from deficits is a formula for failure. It’s certainly proving to be a theory that’s holding water where the Red Wings are concerned.

For the fourth straight game and sixth time in seven games, Detroit fell behind on the scoreboard. The Wings were able to rally for a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers. They came all the way back from 2-0 down to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in OT.

In the other four games, though, the outcome was a regulation time defeat.

“Getting behind the eight-ball like that early, it’s tough to come back on the road, especially in this building,” Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. “The fans are loud and they seem to feed off that energy.

“They came out right from the first shift and kind of tilted the ice. They scored a couple of early goals. We weren’t able to really push back at all.”

Ned Comes Up Big

A continuing bright spot on an otherwise forgettable night was the performance of Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. Many of his 38 saves were high end. Had it not been for his work between the pipes, Montreal could’ve easily matched the output of the 6-1 win posted over the Wings on October 23.

“Coming into this building again, it was kind of same story as last time,” DeKeyser said. “Ned held us in there tonight. It could’ve been a lot worse.”

Nedeljkovic is showing a .930 save percentage and 2.27 goals-against average over his last four appearances.

“Ever since the last part of the game against Chicago until now he’s started to find his groove a little bit,” Blashill said. “I thought he played real well and certainly kept us in the game.”

Canadian Contempt

Bertuzzi has now missed three games in Canada due to his decision to decline the COVID-19 vaccination. He’s the only NHLer to do so.

Detroit is 0-3 in those games. The Wings were 6-1 losers at Montreal in a previous visit. They suffered a 5-4 setback on Saturday in Toronto.

Tuesday, they went down to defeat meekly minus two-thirds of their top line.

“Anytime you’re without those guys, those are some of your workhorses,” DeKeyser said. “Tonight we were not able to find other ways to produce offense. Whether those guys are in or not, we gotta try to find ways to score goals and try to be in games.”