Detroit Red Wings outworked by Devils all night, drop first game in regulation, 6-2

Detroit Free Press

Tuesday’s test turned out to be an opportunity to show some mettle after getting into trouble.

The Detroit Red Wings had a tough outing against the New Jersey Devils, faced with a deficit that stood at multiple goals after 25 minutes. That still left more than half the game for the Wings to give fans at Little Caesars Arena something to cheer, but instead they looked more like last season’s leftovers.

The 6-2 final marked the first regulation loss of the season for the Wings (3-1-2).

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Dylan Larkin extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, but after that first goal, it was all Devils. They outskated and outhustled the Wings, deservedly earning a 2-1 lead after the first period and a 4-1 lead early in the second period.

Alex Nedeljkovic didn’t get much help from his skaters, with the Devils outshooting the Wings by a 2-to-1 margin much of the game. After ex-Wing Tomas Tatar fed Nico Hischier for a goal at 15:38 of the third period, and Jesper Bratt scored less than a minute later, shots were were 41-20 to the Devils.

Hot as fire

Dominik Kubalik has been one of the best stories since training camp began, with the way he has skated and been involved at both ends of the ice. He took a team-leading eight points into Monday’s game and extended his point streak to five straight games less than three minutes in. Coming up ice, he picked up the puck and centered a pass that Larkin tapped behind Vitek Vanecek for a 1-0 lead. It was Kubalik’s sixth assist, and gave him helpers in three straight games. Kubalik joined Larkin’s line with Lucas Raymond on the right wing after Tyler Bertuzzi was lost to an upper-body injury two games into the season.

Kubalik scored midway through the third period. Robert Hägg carried the puck behind the goal line, faked a wrap-around attempt and swung the puck out to Kubalik, who collected a goal for the third straight game.

Bedeviled

The Wings looked good at the start, generating o-zone time and earning a lead. But then the Devils, who were coming off a 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals the previous night, stuck it to the Wings, taking control and deservingly coming away with a lead. First it was Dawson Mercer dropping to one knee as he one-timed a shot from the left circle that snuck through traffic. Then it was Jack Hughes, the No. 1 pick in 2019, who slid to the net and popped a loose puck into the net for his second goal in seven games. Shots after the first period favored the Devils, 15-5.

Special teams hell

The Wings didn’t start the second period well, taking a delay of game penalty 35 seconds in. The Devils needed just eight seconds to convert, with Hischier winning a draw against Larkin and Bratt turning that into a 3-1 lead. It was the first time on 18 opportunities that an opponent scored a power play goal on the Wings. Giving up a goal while shorthanded is one thing; the Wings then turned around and did it again while having a man advantage, with Yegor Sharangovich adding to the damage at 4:41.

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 latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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