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The Breakdown: Red Wings Receive Dose of Reality in 6-2 Loss to Devils

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Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT — Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde may have seen this coming.

Two days after Lalonde cautioned everyone “to be realistic where we are at,” the Red Wings lost 6-2  to the New Jersey Devils to end their streak of earning a point in five consecutive games. This was the first time the Red Wings lost in regulation, the first time they gave up six goals, the first time they surrendered a power play goal and gave up more than 40 shots.

It was the Red Wings’ sloppiest performance this season.

“It’s going to happen, but it doesn’t feel the best today the way the game went tonight,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “We did it to ourselves.”

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The Red Wings played well in the first few minutes, claiming a 1-0 lead on a Larkin goal. Then, the Devils took over, even though they were playing the second night of back to back games.

The Devils seemed to win all of the races and battles. Jesper Bratt ended the Red Wings penalty killing streak at 17-for-17 with a power play goal to give New Jersey a 3-1 lead. Yegor Sharangovich scored a back-breaking shorthanded goal to make a 4-1 game. At one point in the second period, the Devils were outshooting Detroit by a 30-13 advantage. The final shot total was 41-22 in New Jersey’s favor.

Not Much Went Right

“We are not the 1980 Russian Team right now,” Detroit center Andrew Copp said. “We are in the process of becoming the team that wins a lot of games, but there a lot of lessons there to be learned in that process.  Tonight is a lesson that we will have to build from and understand. There is a certain type of game when we don’t have our A+ game we have to have a pretty good B+ game and we didn’t have that tonight.”

Lalonde said Sunday he was pleased with his team’s will and their work ethic, but thought there was some underlying issues that needed to be addressed. That included 5-on-5 play. Detroit gave up four even-strength goals to New Jersey. Of New Jersey’s six goals, goalie Andrew Nedeljkovic probably would only like to have only one back.

“We’ve had a good start, but we are not good enough to have lapses in our game, to get away from what makes us successful,” Lalonde said. “You saw that in most of the first and most of the second. Appreciated the effort in the third. We gave ourselves a legit chance. We went to 4-2 and had some Grade A (scoring chances).”

The timing of this poor performance isn’t good because the Red Wings will play Atlantic Division rival Boston Bruins on the road Thursday.

“That’s a huge game for us,” Larkin said. “…we need much more than we had tonight.”

This was Lalonde’s take: “Huge lesson learned in that we are what we are, and if we play the right way we can be successful but we’re just not talented enough to lull our way through games and expect to get outcomes. That was certainly the case tonight.”

Facts and Observations

  1. Although the Red Wings played their worst overall game, surging Dominik Kubalik registered a goal and an assist to give him 10 points in six games. This was his fourth consecutive multiple-point game.
  2. Faceoffs continue to be a problem for the Detroit club. The Red Wings won only 43% of draws. New Jersey’s Nico Hischier was 15-8 (65%) against Detroit in the faceoff circle.
  3. This is the first season in the NHL’s expansion era that the Red Wings were the last team to suffer a regulation loss. The last such occurrence came in 1962-63 when Detroit started 8-0-2 (the 2 designating ties) before its first defeat on Nov. 8, 1962 against Montreal.
  4. Larkin scored the first goal of the game for the 12th time since the start of last season. No other NHLer has scored more first goals during that period. It was Larkin’s 151st goal, tying him with Bruce McGregor for 24th on Detroit’s all-time list.
  5. Oskar Sundqvist was on the ice for three goals against.
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