Detroit — This time there was no rally and victory against the Washington Capitals.
The Red Wings pulled off one of those this season, but Thursday fell behind and never caught up, losing 2-0.
Washington’s Dmitry Orlov and Lars Eller scored 10 seconds apart midway in the first period, and goaltender Zach Fucale — making his NHL debut — stopped 21 shots to become the first goaltender to shut out the Red Wings in his first NHL game.
The Wings (7-6-2) saw their three-game winning streak end, while Washington (7-2-4) won its second in the last five games.
“Washington made it real difficult on us, we couldn’t get the middle of the ice and we couldn’t generate a lot of offense,” Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin said. “Our power play wasn’t good enough. They’re hard on pucks on the walls and come back and protect the house. We didn’t get enough bodies there, and shots, and it’s the story of the game.”
Both teams had plenty of chances on the power play but neither was particularly effective. The Wings were scoreless on four attempts — including a 1 minute, 24 second two-man advantage in the second period — while Washington was 0-for-4, including a 1:49 two-man advantage, also in the second period.
“You have to find a way to score a goal,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Certainly momentum is a part of it. But we had just killed a five-on-three they didn’t score on, and we get one, you have to find a way to score. It’s disappointing we didn’t. We had a couple of looks but not good enough.
“We have to shoot the puck on the power play and get pucks around the cage.”
It was an impressive road victory for the Capitals, who were without injured forwards, Anthony Mantha (former Red Wing, shoulder), Nicklas Backstrom (hip) and T.J. Oshie (lower body).
Washington broke the game open with those two quick goals in rapid fashion.
Orlov made it 1-0 with his second goal, at 12:43 of the first period.
Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Orlov open near the dot, and Orlov unleashed a one-timer that whistled past goaltender Thomas Greiss (27 saves).
Just 10 seconds later, the Capitals built a cushion.
Former Wings defenseman Nick Jensen knocked the puck away from Givani Smith along the boards, and fed the puck ahead to Eller, who drove to the net and wrapped the puck around Greiss for Eller’s first goal this season.
“They scored the first one on a shot from the point, you’re on the faceoff, you win the faceoff and it’s in your net (10) seconds later, that’s not good enough,” Blashill said. “We didn’t win a battle at the red line, we got on the wrong side of people and we gave up a two-on-one out of nowhere, nonsensical. That’s not a recipe to win.”
Fucale was impressive on several good chances the Wings had, but generally speaking, the Wings felt they could have made life harder for the 26-year-old rookie in his first NHL game.
“We didn’t get enough traffic, didn’t get enough shots,” Larkin said. “We didn’t make it hard enough on him. We had the five-on-three and we have to come out with something.”
The Wings had a perfect penalty-killing evening for a third consecutive game, most impressively killing the Capitals’ two-man advantage, with Washington star Alex Ovechkin lurking dangerously in his area near the dot.
Ovechkin had one point for the evening, drawing an assist on the Orlov goal, but the Wings kept Oveckin out of the goal-scoring column.
Ovechkin, leading the league with 11 goals, has 741 career goals and is chasing Wayne Gretzky (894) for the No. 1 spot all time. Ovechkin is tied with Brett Hull, with Gordie Howe (801) and Jaromir Jagr (766) in between.
The Wings were able to hold Ovechkin without a shot, while he played 20:14. It was the first time in over a year that Ovechkin was held to without a shot, Michael Rasmussen with a big block on Ovechkin during the Capitals’ two-man advantage.
“Our penalty kill did a great job and it was huge boost for us, blocked some big shots,” Larkin said.
Blashill talked about Ovechkin’s career and passion for the game after Thursday’s morning skate.
“It’s been cool to watch him play for the number of years I’ve been on an NHL bench,” Blashill said. “I remember when I was an assistant my first year in the NHL I could not believe how big he was. He’s way bigger when you see him on the ice at ice level than you realize on TV. He’s a huge, huge, strong person. He still plays with the same passion that he did back then, and that’s probably now 10-11 years ago, and probably the same passion that he did when he came into the league (Ovechkin is in his 17th season).
“But yet he’s gotten better over time without a doubt. He can shoot the puck from anywhere and it’s a scoring chance. You can be on him, and he’ll find a way to get it off. You can’t give him a millisecond or otherwise he’s getting his shot off and every shot has a chance to go in.”