Detroit Red Wings hit by jet lag, then Winnipeg Jets don’t lag in 3-0 loss

Detroit Free Press

One team was healthy but weary from travel, the other fresh but decimated by the pandemic.

The Detroit Red Wings were put on their heels early Thursday at Little Caesars Arena, and couldn’t muster the energy to challenge the Winnipeg Jets and lost, 3-0.

The Wings’ best chance to dent Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce) came late in the game when they had 1:13 with a two-man advantage — which grew to three when Alex Nedeljkovic was pulled for an extra attacker. Instead, Kyle Connor (Shelby Township) scored shorthanded into an empty net with 2:30 to play.

Nedeljkovic was a bright spot, making 29 saves. Hellebuyck faced 33 shots.

The Wings (16-17-5) played for the fourth time in six days while the Jets were playing for the first time since Jan. 6.

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Looking at lineups

Dylan Larkin, freshly selected to represent the Wings at the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, returned after missing Tuesday’s game at San Jose with an upper-body injury. Larkin played like he had fresher legs, creating multiple scoring opportunities in registering a team-high eight shots on net. His availability restored the Wings to the group they’ve had for the majority of games. The Jets, on the other hand, were without numerous key players. Blake Wheeler is dealing with an injury and those in pandemic protocol included Nikolaj Ehlers, Nathan Beaulieu, Ville Heinola and Paul Stastny.

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Looking at faces

The Wings welcomed back former teammate Evgeny Svechnikov during the first period, showing a picture of Svechnikov in Wings uniform and one of him lifting the Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2017. The former regime drafted Svechnikov at No. 19 in 2015, but he never developed into a top forward. Svechnikov, 25, appeared in 41 games over three seasons with the Wings, including 21 last season, but recorded just 12 points. General manager Steve Yzerman declined to offer a qualfying offter to Svechnikov last summer, leaving him an unrestricted free agent. He caught on with the Jets organization, and emerged as a regular after a good training camp. Svechnikov picked up his seventh assist of the season when he set up Andrew Copp (Ann Arbor) at 5:41 of the first period.

A look at special teams

The Wings went on a power play midway through the first period, when it was 1-0. They went on a second midway through the second period, when it was still just a one-goal game. They moved the puck well on both, and directed shots on net, creating a bit of chaos, but were stymied by Hellebuyck. The Jets struck just as they had killed off the penalty to Josh Morrissey, with Copp netting his 10th of the season when he sent the puck high on Nedeljkovic. By the end of the second period, the Wings were 0-for-3 with man advantages.

Contact Helene St. James at 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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