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Five Takeaways: Red Wings Snowed Under By Avalanche



Joe Veleno, Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings rookie forward Joe Veleno scored in Friday's ??? loss at Colorado.

The last thing the Detroit Red Wings wanted to do Friday night was get into a chance-trading, run-and-gun shootout-style game with the Colorado Avalanche.

Barely five minutes into the game, they were left with no other choice, and the outcome of this fact of life was predictable.

Colorado whipped Detroit 7-3 at Ball Arena. The Avs scored three times in the first 5:48 of the game, chasing Detroit starting goalie Thomas Greiss, who’d faced just five shots. Alex Nedeljkovic, who gave way to Greiss in Thursday’s 6-2 loss at St. Louis, went the rest of the way.

It was a disastrous start,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “You can’t start like that in this building.

“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot.”

Following a solid 2-1 road win at Boston, the Red Wings are reverting to previous away form. They’ve surrendered 13 goals over the last two games. Detroit has given up at least five goals in eight of 15 road games this season.

“It was a litmus test for us defensively and we gotta grow,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We gotta get better.”

Five takeaways from the club’s latest road trip from . . . well, you know.

At Least Raymond Is Okay

A collective sigh of relief was exhaled by the Red Wings faithful when right-winger Lucas Raymond was seen returning to the ice late in the second period. A few minutes earlier, Raymond was wobbling to the Detroit dressing room, favoring his right knee. He’d been involved in a freak accidental knee-on-knee collision with Colorado’s Kurtis MacDermid near the benches during a line change.

“Those two guys just collided,” Blashill said. “We probably got a little bit lucky it wasn’t worse. It could have been worse for sure.”

Raymond was able to play the remainder of the game.

“I don’t think it’s going to be anything major,” Blashill said. “Doesn’t mean he won’t be sore. Just a collision, nobody’s fault.”

Defenseman Filip Hronek also left the game briefly in the third period after being cross-checked into the boards by Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. He was back in action before the power play was over, though.

Red Wings Namestnikov Hits Century Mark

Vladislav Namestnikov got Detroit on the board late in the first period, converting a sweet feed from Pius Suter on a two-on-one chance.

It was Namestnikov’s ninth goal of the season. He scored eight times all of last season in 53 games. The tally was also the 100th of the veteran forward’s NHL career.

Namestnikov was flipped up to the second line with Suter and rookie Joe Veleno. Filip Zadina dropped down to the third line with Michael Rasmussen and Adam Erne.

Zadina committed one of the bigger defensive blunders on the night. Off a lost faceoff in the Detroit zone, he left his made Andre Burakovsky to cover the point. All alone in the slot, Burkakovsky had all day to beat Nedeljkovic.

“We just got beat on our assignments, especially early,” Larkin said. “You gotta take short shifts, you gotta get into the game, you gotta get adjusted to the altitude.”

Oh Helm No

When he was with the Red Wings, the best offensive strategy for Darren Helm when he got loose on a breakaway often appeared to be to dump it in a go for a line change.

Friday, he gained the first breakway chance of his career against the Red Wings. He split the defense of Dan Renouf and Jordan Oesterle and snapped a quick shot past Greiss, ending the Detroit goalie’s night.

Red Wings fans were rubbing their eyes in disbelief, certain that they were entering a parallel universe.

Way To Go Joe

It just wouldn’t be a Red Wings game this season without a rookie figuring in the scoring. Defenseman Moritz Seider dished out an assist on Namestnikov’s goal – and was plus-one on the night in a 7-3 loss.

On a night when the opposition was keeping Raymond off the scoresheet, it was Veleno who stepped up to be the rookie to light the lamp. He broke down the right wing, cut to the net and slipped a backhander through the pads of Avs goalie Darcy Kuemper to narrow Colorado’s lead to 3-2.

So much for a momentum boost, though. Within 1:01 of Veleno’s goal, Colorado scored twice to increase the lead to 5-2.

At Witkowski’s End

Prior to the game, the Red Wings announced that defenseman Luke Witkowski was being reassigned to AHL Grand Rapids. Detroit ended up recalling Witkowski to the big club on Tuesday.

He saw no action with the Wings. Under AHL suspension for two games due to a charging infraction, by returning Witkowski to GR he was able to serve out the second game of his enforced sitdown on Friday as the Griffins were facing the Manitoba Moose.