Another solid Detroit Red Wings effort spoiled by yet another long-term injury

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings came away with a point and another performance to build on, but it rankled to lose yet another forward.

Coach Derek Lalonde didn’t have specifics immediately following Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, but estimated Luff would be out six-to-eight weeks after going head-first into the boards when he was hit from behind by Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky. Officials assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct on the play. Luff looked shaken up and immediately went to the dressing room.

“He won’t be seen anytime soon, unfortunately” Lalonde said. “As far as the hit, the right call was made. It’s unfortunate — it’s the exact hit you want to try to avoid. Player got seriously injured.”

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Luff had just had the shield removed from his helmet that he needed after taking a puck to the mouth in a game on Oct. 29.

“You don’t want to see that, ever,” Dylan Larkin said. “It’s a bad hit and I think Slafjkovsky knew it right away. But you can’t hit someone like that. It’s scary to see anyone go into the boards like that. We’re really hoping he’s all right.”

The Wings expect Oskar Sundqvist (upper body) to be available Thursday. Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body) is projected to return in seven-to-10 days, but Jakub Vrana (players assistance program) is out indefinitely and Robby Fabbri (knee) won’t be back before January at the earliest.

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The hit tarnished what otherwise was a fourth straight performance that fed into the defense-oriented identity the Wings seem to be fully embracing. The Wings took 41 shots on Jake Allen, and rallied from a 2-1 deficit when Lucas Raymond scored midway through the third period.

“We hung in there,” Lalonde said. “I liked the fact it didn’t feel like it was going to go our way, we couldn’t score on the power play in the second, our skill was tired, you saw a little lack of execution, and Allen was remarkable — it just didn’t feel like we were going to get that tying goal. The fact we did, that’s good. It’s a really good point, we’ll take that.”

The Wings (7-3-3) have seven points in the last four games.

“Our margin of error is still very thin,” Lalonde said. “We’re 3-0-1 our last four. They’ve been really tight games. It’s still about keeping it out of the net and we did that. We gave up two in 60 minutes, got a point.”

The Wings went scoreless on 11:22 minutes of man-advantage time, but it wasn’t like in past seasons when their power play was inept — they generated chance after chance, and Allen made 12 saves during the Detroit power plays.

“We stuck with it,” Larkin said. “Allen made some big saves. We got a point. It’s a little bit disappointing because we had a lot of chances, but I thought on the power play we got looks and we built momentum. We got enough looks for it to go in but some nights it’s not going to get in, but I didn’t think it affected us too much. We didn’t kill momentum when we went out there. We moved the puck around, we were in the zone, we got to our spots.

“I think our whole game, we kind of have a baseline of how we play, and it wasn’t going well at the beginning and it kept us in the game. This past week, the last four games, we’ve competed. We’ve blocked shots, we’ve gotten great goaltending, and we were right there. Newsy said if after the game, if we play that game 10 times, we could win eight games.”

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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