To celebrate the 61st birthday of Wayne Gretzky on Wednesday, the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks decided to play the game the way they did in the Great One’s prime. The Hawks and Wings combined for 13 goals in Chicago’s 8-5 victory at Little Caesars Arena.
Five takeaways from Detroit’s third successive setback.
Red Wings 0-4 Opening Frame
Certainly in terms of the scoreboard it was the worst opening period Detroit has played at home this season. The Red Wings found themselves heading to the dressing room for the first intermission trailing Chicago 4-0.
“We made terrible decisions with the puck,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “You’re not winning that way. We’ve talked lots about it, we made some strides in it. Tonight, we went backwards for sure in that way.
“We forced plays we didn’t need to force. We didn’t execute with the puck. Ultimately, we gave them a whole bunch of chances.”
It was the first game the Red Wings had given up eight goals in a a game since an 8-2 loss at the New York Islanders on Jan. 14, 2020. But it was the 14th time this season that Detroit has surrendered at least five goals in a game.
Second Period Second Line Rally
The second line nearly rallied the Red Wings to snatch victory away from the team from the Second City. Second-period goals by each member of the unit – Robby Fabbri, Pius Suter and Tyler Bertuzzi – narrowed Chicago’s lead to 4-3 after 20 minutes.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) January 27, 2022
“They got the team going there to give us a chance to try to tie it in the third,” Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser said.
The trio combined for three goals and five points. Bertuzzi’s goal was his 20th of the season. He extended his points streak to five games (3-7-10).
Red Wings Ned Beaten
Detroit goalie Alex Nedeljkovic was starting his seventh successive game. That’s a career high for him as an NHLer. But he ended up watching most of the contest from a seat on the end of the Wings’ bench. Nedeljkovic was pulled following the first period.
“That pull isn’t pinned on Ned at all,” Blashill said. “He’s had a heavy workload so . . . let’s give him a little breather here. At the end of the day, our team wasn’t playing with the urgency needed to play with.
“I don’t think it was fair for Ned there.”
Calvin Pickard, up from AHL Grand Rapids filling in for Thomas Greiss (COVID-19 protocol), played the final two periods. He saw his first Red Wings action since March 30, 2021 against Florida and ended up being tagged with the loss.
“I thought Pick came in and did a good job,” Blashill said.
Home Sour Home
Home was where the Red Wings were making hay this season, During the 2021 portion of the NHL season, Detroit was 11-3-2 at LCA. Since the calendar turned to 2022, they’re 2-3-1 overall on home ice and 1-2-1 in the past four games.
“I thought we had too many guys not even close to their A game,” Blashill said. “When you do that, you’re gonna have tough nights. And then when you’re not on your game and competitive and you’re trying to get yourself back into it, you try to force your way back into it.
“That’s not how it works.”
The Wings have allowed 13 goals against in the past two home games.
Suter’s Sin Bin
Through the first 42 games of the season, Suter was living a pius existence when it came to fouls. He’d served two minor penalties. Thursday, he was assessed a hat-trick of minors.
Suter was in the penalty box for both of Chicago’s power-play goals.