Why Detroit Red Wings are hoping for a happy homecoming after rough road trip

Detroit Free Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Detroit Red Wings opted to stay on the road one more night rather than endure a red-eye flight, but there’s no doubt they need the respite of coming home.

They capped an unsuccessful trip with an overtime loss to the worst team in the NHL, falling 2-1 to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. The Wings don’t play again until Wednesday, and that three-day break is welcome after playing 11 times in 19 days, including two sets of back-to-backs.

“We’ve played a ton of hockey,” said captain Dylan Larkin after the game at Gila River Arena. “We’ve really grinded, and you know what, it hasn’t been going our way but there’s a lot to look back on this stretch. We’ve played some good hockey, especially at home. The schedule till Christmas is a lot less games, so we have to find a way to play some good hockey before Christmas.”

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The Wings (8-10-2) host the St. Louis Blues on Thanksgiving eve and then have two days before hosting the Buffalo Sabres. That will offer a chance for some high-energy practices, which have had to be limited this month to conserve energy for games.

“We’re going to get home, and we’re going to have a couple hard practices and start figuring some things out and get back to what makes us successful, which is playing hard, playing together and playing fast,” Larkin said.

The Wings outshot the Coyotes, 34-28, and played with a lead for nearly 45 minutes of game time — from Larkin’s goal 8:41 into the first until the Coyotes evened it with 6:29 remaining in the third. That included four minutes of power play time, near the midpoint of the second period,, but Arizona goalie Scott Wedgewood stopped 10 shots in that stretch.

“We have to capitalize,” Larkin said. “We have to find a way to score. We had a ton of chances. Wedgewood played good, but we have to find a way to score. When we get a lead, late in games, we can’t panic. We can’t sit back and defend for 20 minutes. We have to play some offense and play smart.”

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The Wings played better defensively than they had in the first three stops — 5-3 at Columbus, 5-2 at Dallas, and 5-2 at Vegas. But to come away with one point out of eight is all the tougher because the Wings began the trip on a 4-1 roll.

“We played good enough to win the game, so it’s unfortunate to walk out and not have won,” coach Jeff Blashill said “But over a long period of time, you just have to do it right. And if you do it right and defend more similar to how we defended tonight — we created enough scoring chances to win, I thought overall we defended much better — you’re going to find yourself to lots of wins.

“Ultimately we have to get back, get ourselves reset, and try to find a way to win on Wednesday.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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