Red Wings overpowered, ‘outplayed’ by Penguins in home finale

Detroit News

Detroit — At least Tigers star Miguel Cabrera made history across the street from Little Caesars Arena, where there was nothing historic going on.

The Red Wings closed out the home portion of their regular-season schedule on Saturday with a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Wings have three consecutive road games beginning Sunday in New Jersey to close out the season.

BOX SCORE: Penguins 7, Red Wings 2

Jakub Vrana (power play) and Michael Rasmussen had goals for the Wings (30-39-10). Thomas Greiss stopped 18 of 23 shots after two periods before being replaced by Alex Nedeljkovic (13 of 15 saves) to begin the final period.

Evgeni Malkin had two goals, including a power-play goal, and Chad Ruhwedel, Sidney Crosby, Rickard Rakell, Kris Letang and Danton Heinen scored once for the Penguins, while goaltender Casey DeSmith stopped 23 shots.

Already missing Dylan Larkin (core surgery) and Robby Fabbri (knee), the Wings also didn’t have Filip Zadina, who had his appendix removed when the Wings were in Florida this week. Coach Jeff Blashill said Zadina will miss the final three games of the season.

“We’re in a spot where we’ve lost a lot of guys to injuries, a number of guys are out, and the preparation from yesterday to today was trying to figure out who fits in what spots and trying to put ourselves in competitive situations as we can,” Blashill said.

“We have to defend great, get great goaltending and be super opportunistic. Unfortunately today, we weren’t as opportunistic as other times.”

The Wings fell behind 2-0 on Pittsburgh goals one minute, 34 seconds apart midway in the first period, but Vrana’s 13th goal cut the lead to 2-1 heading into the second period.

Rasmussen tied the game at 2 with his 13th goal just 17 seconds into the second period on a nice rush up the ice, snapping a shot past DeSmith.

But Pittsburgh (45-23-11) roared back with three goals in a span of 8:39 to take a 5-2 lead, with Rakell, Letang and Malkin blitzing the Wings.

“The game kind of got away from us a little bit in the second,” said defenseman Danny DeKeyser, a potential unrestricted free agent who may have played his last home game in Detroit.

“We had some chances in the second (period), but they capitalized on theirs and we didn’t capitalize on ours and that was the turning point of the game. They outplayed us a little bit there in the third.”

Heinen and Malkin closed out the scoring in the third period.

“They have firepower and it’s like the game in Florida the other day (Thursday). We played a pretty good first period but you come out and they score two in the last minutes and you’re down (on the scoreboard),” DeKeyser said. “You give up chances, and we defended too much, played too much in the defensive zone, and didn’t have enough shifts in the offensive zone to turn the tide and tilt the ice a little bit.

“They have so many guys who can put the puck in the net and eventually it’s going to cost you.”

The playoffs have long been a pipe dream, but the Wings did finish above .500 (18-16-7) at LCA, where home ice became a factor again.

“Those fans mean a lot to us. They’ve been here all year long through the good and bad days, and we appreciate them very much,” DeKeyser said. “The first half of the year we were pretty good at home. The fans brought energy to those games and we kind of had it going at home a little bit. We kind of got a little stagnant the second half of the season. Why? I’m not exactly sure.

“But the first half of the year, we were pretty good.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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