Ted Kulfan | The Detroit News
In a season where the losses are already mounting this one was a heartbreaker for the Detroit Red Wings. One that stings a bit more than the rest have.
Nashville’s Dante Fabbro scored with one minute left in regulation time, sending the Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings.
The Wings were unable to clear the puck and it ultimately landed on the stick of Fabbro, whose shot from the point eluded goaltender Thomas Greiss through a maze of bodies.
“It was a tough one there, simple hockey,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We didn’t get the puck out and it came back, we played a tough game, (but) we have to manage the puck and can’t give up a last-minute goal. It was a tough pill to swallow.”
The Wings (3-10-2) appeared to be headed for at least one point in the standings thanks to another fine defensive outing. But instead, it was a ghastly punch to the gut.
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“Frustrating for sure,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We put ourselves in position to win another hockey game and we didn’t finish it. That’s the step we need to take.
“We have to react to it. That’s what life is about. We’ll have to wake up in the morning and pick ourselves up, look in the mirror, and keep trying to get better. A gut punch is a gut punch and you don’t get the choice if you get it or don’t get it. We got it and we have to pick ourselves up and get better.”
The loss ended the Wings’ six-game winning streak in Nashville, and was only the Wings’ third loss in the last 13 games overall against Nashville.
Robby Fabbri and Marc Staal scored for the Wings, while Ryan Ellis (power play) and Matt Duchene answered for Nashville.
The teams end the two-game series Saturday in Nashville (8 p.m./Fox Sports Detroit/97.1).
“Right now we’re not getting results, but we’re finding our identity and the way we have to work on a daily basis,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “If we realize it and we can keep finding the way to do this and play this hard, we will get results.”
Duchene put Nashville ahead 2-1 at 19:19 of the second period.
The Predators won a draw in the opposite zone, broke out, and Calle Jarnkrok found Duchene driving to the net. Duchene tapped the puck past Greiss for his third goal.
But the Wings responded quickly.
Bobby Ryan found Staal skating down the wing, and Staal snapped a shot past goaltender Pekka Rinne just 14 seconds after Duchene’s goal, Staal’s second goal.
Nashville took a first-period lead on Ellis’ power play, thanks to a nice pass from Filip Forsberg across the slot, Ellis one-timing his second goal at 14:48.
But the Wings answered late in the period.
Anthony Mantha, who had another promising game after being benched last week — was stopped on the breakaway with three minutes left in the game — won a puck battle along the boards and found Fabbri near the dot. Fabbri wristed his third goal at 19:26, tying the score 1-1.
“He (Mantha) was real good,” Blashill said. “He was excellent. Strong on his stick, won a ton of battles, worked and skated hard, did a lot of great stuff. Anthony’s game is going in the right way. The other night was good and this was better. That’s a huge bright spot for us.”
It was another disappointing night for the Wings’ power play, which went 0-for-4, although the Wings’ penalty kill stopped 3-of-4 Nashville power plays.
The power play continues to plague the Wings game in, game out.
“One of the recipes for having a bad power play is losing the faceoff and not getting in the zone,” Blashill said. “We were never set up.”
The Wings lost forward Darren Helm in the first period with an upper-body injury. Blashill was unsure about Helm’s status for Saturday.