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Five Takeaways: Senators Send Red Wings to Sixth Straight Loss

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Michael Rasmussen‘s early goal looked like a good sign for the Detroit Red Wings. But a parade of penalties and a two goal deficit proved too much to overcome Sunday afternoon.

The Senators captured the game 5-2 and sent the reeling Red Wings to their sixth straight loss. Before the game started, some Red Wings faithful were irked at Adam Erne getting top line treatment, but head coach Jeff Blashill explained his reasoning a day prior.

“On that line, if you can get somebody to retrieve pucks and get to the net,” Blashill said.  “It gets Larks and Razor touches. I’m not saying that’s how I’ll stick the whole game, but we went through a couple different scenarios and that’s the one we decided to start the game with.”

By the third period, Rasmussen was on the top line with Lucas Raymond and Dylan Larkin with the Red Wings chasing two goals. Though there was more spark in their third period performance, it was a similar result as the previous five games–albeit a bit closer on the score sheet.

Larkin closed the gap to one on a backhand and the Red Wings controlled the tempo of the third. It looked as Detroit might have tied it as Hirose crashed into the net with the puck and drew a penalty. But the officials ruled it no goal and the Red Wings went to the power play.

But Detroit’s man advantage just couldn’t get it together.

“It’s disappointing we’re not able to capitalize there,” Blashill admitted.

Ottawa finished it off with two empty netters, one that gave Josh Norris his first career hat trick. And so it goes, another milestone for an opponent while the Detroit Red Wings are closer, but still quite far away.

Red Wings Take Too Many Penalties

Taking four penalties prevented Detroit from building on its early jump. Gustav Lindstrom committed a tough penalty that resulted in the lone power play goal, but despite the slew of infractions, Larkin felt the Red Wings came away with some energy.

“I thought we got momentum from our kills,” Larkin said.  “Obviously, we gotta stay out of the box. I don’t really want to talk about the penalties but we got momentum from our kill tonight–until the second period. We can’t take 5-6 penalties a game.”

DHN’s Bob Duff touched on this as one of the five things Detroit must clean up. The penalty kill has been Detroit’s achilles heel going back to February 26, and though a bit better killing three of four, still yielded a goal that would put the Red Wings into a hole.

Detroit Red Wings Power Play Misses a Golden Opportunity

Though it’s been better, Detroit missed on a crucial chance late in the third period. A couple errant passes ruined potential opportunities to set up while a missed chance by Filip Zadina led to a short handed two-on-one the other way. Larkin felt it was just a lack of urgency that robbed the Red Wings a chance of tying the game.

“We didn’t even get to our setup,” Larkin explained when asked.  “The other unit there with (Jake) Walman, he had a good chance to rip one. We passed it around. Z (Zadina) had a good shot there. The other unit was but our unit wasn’t even close to getting it set up. We gotta find a way to get something off the faceoff, get possession, get set up, and get to our looks.”

Michael Rasmussen Continues His Upward Momentum

Be it the shot he snapped that gave Detroit its first goal, or the more physical play he’s demonstrated in the past few games, few Red Wings have stood out as much as Rasmussen has lately. Though the rugged forward seemed to slowly get going this season, he’s been a bright spot during Detroit’s stumbles as of late.

“Ras was excellent today. I thought he played hard,” Blashill said.  “Thought he won battles. I thought he played with the type of energy we’re going to need from everybody. So, I thought he was excellent today.”

Zadina’s Snakebitten Season

For how well Rasmussen has played as of late, Zadina continues to just have a stretch of luck that demystifies reason. Be it a broken stick at an inopportune time, or a shot block that goes the other way, Zadina has been snakebitten. His body language has certainly shown he knows this, too.

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Sunday afternoon was no different, with some good chances either being snuffed out of nowhere or bouncing the wrong way. Zadina was on the ice for nearly thirteen (12:48) minutes, but just a few seconds of frustration seemed to cloud what was a fairly productive afternoon generating chances. Unfortunately for him and the Red Wings, it didn’t result in a goal.

Frustration Mounts as Streak Extends

Both Larkin and Blashill spoke to the rising frustration within the last six games–latter half of the season. The captain talked specifically about how the team would end previous seasons stronger while the latest one has been the opposite.

“It just hasn’t gone the way any of want it to go since even before the trade deadline,” Larkin said.  “We’ve had the hardest schedule but it’s as frustrating as it can be. We were the closest we’ve been in a couple of years. We were playing well, we played well at home and then we’ve just really fallen off. It is frustrating.

We gotta get something here positive to end the season on.”

Blashill spoke to it being unequivocal frustration. One that can’t be used as a crutch, but it’s certainly a factor in the latest stretch of struggles.

“There’s no doubt that right now we’re beat down mentally,” Blashill said. “That’s not an excuse. We got to fix that but that’s the reality of it. We got to climb our way out of it.”

Those frustrations have certainly been noted–and felt–both inside and outside of the organization.

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