Detroit — Sometimes you have to give credit to the opponent, and that might’ve been the case Tuesday for the Red Wings.
The Nashville Predators, despite missing some key regulars in the lineup and beginning a long stretch on the road, played a physically tough road game and defeated the Wings 5-2.
Nashville limited the Wings to 16 shots – the Wings were outshot 33-16 – and did a fine job bottling up the Wings the entire evening.
“They outbattled us,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We’ve been playing well, good hockey. We won five games in a row. We didn’t come out and execute.”
Robby Fabbri (power play) and Michael Rasmussen had the Wings’ goals.
The Wings also lost defenseman Moritz Seider with eight minutes left in the game after he was slammed along the boards by Nashville’s Tanner Jeannot.
Seider’s right shoulder and head both appeared to hit the glass hard, before Seider gingerly skated to the bench and immediately headed to the locker room.
“No update on Seider,” said coach Jeff Blashill after the game. “I should know more tomorrow (Wednesday).”
The loss ended the Wings’ (13-10-3) five-game win streak, which was the Wings’ longest streak since 2019. It was also only the Wings’ third regulation time loss at Little Caesars Arena this season in 14 games (9-3-2).
The Wings now hit the road for back-to-back games in St. Louis (Thursday) and Colorado (Friday).
“”We have to forget this one quickly,” Larkin said. “We have two more teams from the West that are tough, on the road, and we have to set our focus on that. Those are huge hockey games for our team.
“The biggest thing now is how we respond in St. Louis and Colorado.”
Nashville jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Ryan Johansen (power play) and Roman Josi, and never let up.
Blashill felt the poor start was costly.
“The first period they outcompeted us and were more physical,” Blashill said. “We weren’t ready to play. They wanted those two points more than we wanted those two points. Certainly their physicality and competitiveness was better than ours.”
Nashville’s Nick Cousins regained the two-goal lead for Nashville at 2:33 of the third period, and Eeli Tolvanen iced it with his third goal, making it 4-1.
The Wings cut Nashville’s lead to 4-2 on Rasmussen’s second goal. The Wings broke free on an odd-man rush after two Nashville players collided down the ice. Adam Erne’s backhanded pass through the slot reached Rasmussen’s stick, and Rasmussen quickly snapped a shot past goaltender David Rittich.
But Fabbro’s empty net goal finished the scoring.
Fabbri’s power-play goal cut Nashville’s lead to 2-1 in the second period.
Fabbri drove hard to the net and popped in a loose puck that Rittich couldn’t control. It was Fabbri’s sixth goal, with Pius Suter (six game point streak, one goal and five assists) and Seider assisting, at 9:58.
“They play their style, stacking up the neutral zone and make it hard to come in,” Larkin said. “We saw it a lot last year and we did well against it, but we gave up costly goals and didn’t generate enough goals.”
Larkin felt the game might serve as a lesson for the Wings.
“Every time we got into their zone, we were getting mauled,” Larkin said. “They beat the rap out of us down low. Their defense made it hard to get to the net and get shots and get in the slot.
“It’s something to learn from and take that intensity into our game.”
Nashville found out shortly before the game they were without goaltender Juuse Saros and defensemen Mattias Ekholm, both out with non-COVID illness, and defenseman Matt Benning (upper body).
But Rittich, replacing Saros, was steady when needed to be while earning his second win in three decisions.
“We needed to find another goal and tie it and build some momentum,” Blashill said. “Instead it went the other way.
“We can’t come out and play and the beginning of games like that.”