Detroit Red Wings slammed by New York Rangers, 8-2, at LCA

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings sullied what had been a good stretch for them, falling apart in three minutes.

Their Thursday matchup at Little Caesars Arena against the New York Rangers — the second meeting in five days between the Original Six rivals — was close until the third period, when the Wings let down goaltender Ville Husso and themselves, leading to an 8-2 loss.

It was what their coach, Derek Lalonde, had warned: A bump in the road. And now, after playing four of five games at Little Caesars Arena, the Wings are going on the road, where they have won just twice in five contests.

Joe Veleno scored in the first period, and Lucas Raymond in the second, making it a 2-2 game going into the third. That’s when team defense failed, and, in a span of 2:56 minutes, Adam Fox, Barclay Goodrow, Mika Zibanejad and Julien Gauthier barraged Ville Husso, with Libor Hajek following up a few minutes later. Jimmy Vesey scored during a Detroit power play in the final minutes, adding to the embarrassment before the fans that stuck around.

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It was as bad as the Wings (7-4-3) have looked since an 8-3 meltdown in Buffalo on Halloween, after which the Wings came home and responded with much better play. Now they face that challenge headed to California.

Berggren debuts

With Elmer Söderblom day-to-day with an undisclosed issue — and with a Friday departure for a week in California —the Wings called up forwards Jonatan Berggren and Givani Smith. Berggren made his NHL debut, on a line with Veleno and recent call-up Austin Czarnik. Coach Derek Lalonde said earlier this week Berggren would only be called up if there was a “two-to-three week window” for the youngster to play. The Wings were thrilled when Berggren, 22, was available at No. 33 in 2018, having scouted the Swedish winger for his high-end offensive skill. Berggren’s development was slowed by injuries a couple years ago, but he had a good year last season in Sweden and posted seven points in seven games with the Griffins to begin this season.

2018 draft contributions

Zibanejad scored off a draw at 16:40, the second time this season he has netted one on the Wings. But two guys from the Wings’ 2018 draft came through with a timely goal: Veleno and Berggren. Olli Määtta started the play (and earned his fifth assist) when he fed Veleno the puck deep in Detroit’s zone. Veleno carried the puck into the middle and passed to Berggren along the wall. Berggren dragged the puck into the offensive zone and centered a pass that Veleno turned into a goal, with 1:14 left in the first period. Veleno, drafted No. 30 four years ago, has two goals in 13 games. Berggren has a point to cherish from his debut. One of the forwards the Wings are without is FIlip Zadina, the No. 6 pick in 2018, who had no points and a minus-3 rating when he suffered an injury Nov. 5 that will sideline him for six to eight weeks.

Special second

The Wings spent a good chunk of the second period of their previous game getting looks on the power play. This night they spent a good chunk of the second period shorthanded, taking three straight penalties. They were able to make it 2-1 during five-on-five play when Raymond beat Igor Shesterkin with a shot from the slot, at 7:33, but skating ruts to the penalty box took away momentum. The Rangers pulled even at 10:51, when Artemi Panarin threaded a pass to Chris Kreider, who was just outside the crease, ready to redirect the shot past Husso. Fox set the play in motion when he caught the puck at the blueline, spun around, and fed Panarin.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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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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