The Detroit Red Wings didn’t come out like a team trying to keep a good thing rolling, delivering a first period as flat as it was forgettable.
The resilient attitude that carried them the past two weeks wasn’t there Tuesday, and the result was a rare loss at Little Caesars Arena, 5-2, to the Nashville Predators.
It was only the third regulation loss this season at home for the Wings (13-10-3) and halted a five-game winning streak. The Wings struggled to generate offense, and were outshot, 33-16. Even when goalie Alex Nedeljkovic was pulled with 3:24 to go, the Wings only managed two shots on net,and gave up an empty-net goal with 31 seconds left.
It was a fitting end to a lackluster performance.
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The Wings were down by a pair of goals after the first period, with Ryan Johansen scoring at 12:32 and Roman Josi skating around Filip Hronek to score on Nedeljkovic near the end of the period. Robby Fabbri undid part of the damage with his sixth goal of the season in the second period. Pius Suter extended his point streak to six games when he set up Fabbri. Moritz Seider also picked up an assist, his 15th of the season. He left in the third period after a check into the glass.
The Wings’ comeback hopes took a hit early in the third period when Nick Cousins restored the Predators’ two-goal cushion. Josi collected his third point on the play. Johansen picked up his third point when he won the draw opposite Dylan Larkin; the puck got to Dante Fabbro, who fired a shot through traffic that Eeli Tolvanen tipped.
Michael Rasmussen scored his second goal of the season midway through the third period. Fabbro had the empty-netter.
With forward Tyler Bertuzzi and defenseman Marc Staal both in COVID-19 protocol and defenseman Gustav Lindstrom unavailable because of a lower-body injury, Dan Renouf made his second appearance of the season. Bertuzzi’s absence, which dates to Dec. 1, meant Joe Veleno got another shot to prove he belongs in the top six, playing alongside Suter and Filip Zadina.
First period difference
The Wings went on a power play 1:17 into the game when Matt Duchene was called for slashing. It was an exercise in futility, with little threat to score on backup goalie David Rittich. The Wings came into the game having scored once on their previous 13 power play opportunities, dating back to Nov. 18. The Predators, on the other hand, showed how it’s done, converting just 24 seconds after Vladislav Namestnikov was sent off for putting the puck over the glass. Duchene cut in from the right flank and timed a perfect pass to Ryan Johansen, who redirected it behind Nedeljkovic.
Smith makes a difference
Givani Smith fought Ben Harpur near the midpoint of the second period, landing several punches and coming out on top when the two tumbled to the ice. The score was 2-0 and shots were 14-5 at the time. Two minutes later, the Wings went on another power play when Alexandre Carrier’s decision to shove Renouf into the boards earned a roughing call. With Suter creating havoc at the net, Fabbri scooted in and got to the puck in the crease to edge the Wings within a goal. Smith had a good game Saturday against the Islanders, and showed against the Predators how valuable he can be as an energy provider.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.