Detroit − The Red Wings, just as they were Sunday, were in position to at least earn a point in the standings Thursday against the New York Rangers.
But this time, the Rangers wouldn’t allow it, changing the complexion of this game dramatically in short fashion.
Six third-period goals, only 10 minutes, 29 seconds apart, broke a tie and spurred the Rangers to an 8-2 victory.
What had been a close game, and the Wings were in good position to earn points in the standings, became a disaster real quick.
“Everything changed,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “It’s close, it’s 2-2, we were feeling good. They get one and it’s just the same story as Buffalo (a similar, ugly 8-3 loss last week), it (the puck) keeps going in. We shot ourselves in the foot with errors and they capitalized on them, whether it’s turnovers, missed assignments or shorthanded goals, whatever it was.
“It’s not fair to our goalies that we keep going like that.”
Adam Fox (his fourth goal and third point of the game, 6:02), Barclay Goodrow (third goal, 7:23), Mika Zibanedjad (ninth goal and second of game, at 8:13), Julien Gauthier (second goal, 8:59), Libor Hajek (first goal, 12:47 and Jimmy Vesey (second goal, shorthanded, 16:31) scored the New York goals in quick fashion and erased what had actually been a close tight game.
This loss, as well as the Buffalo loss, and a 5-1 loss in Boston last month, against three high-powered offensive teams, showed the problems the Wings can have against highly skilled teams.
“It proves that if we’re not exact, if we’re not at the top of our game, we’re just not good enough,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Not in a bad way. Our guys know that. If we’re at the top of our game, we can play with anyone. You take it off just a little bit, against deep skill, and all three of these games have felt like this.
“It just looks like another lesson going forward. It’s one of those nights where it got away from us.”
Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (18 saves) made the lead stand, though Shesterkin was rarely severely tested.
Joe Veleno and Lucas Raymond had the Red Wings’ goals.
Chris Kreider (power play) added the other Rangers’ goal.
But it was Fox who ignited the Rangers third-period barrage, one-timing a puck that bounced off the sideboard to Fox, and beating goaltender Ville Husso (25 saves) from near the dot. The goal, one Husso would probably want to have back, started the barrage.
“Ville has been our best player, he’s our MVP, and he wants that third goal back,” Lalonde said. “I feel bad that we let him out to dry, but the competitor he is, he’s frustrated over that third goal.
“It’s 2-2, with 13 minutes left, and our best hockey might have been the first five or six minutes of the third (period). It just shows, you let off a little bit and that’s a special team. Their world class, Norris Trophy, superstar type of players were real good.”
Goodrow then extended the lead to 4-2 just 1:21 later. Panarin had the puck in the corner and fired it to Goodrow in the slot, who patiently waited out Husso and slipped the puck past for his third goal.
From there, the Wings collapsed defensively and the Rangers (7-5-3) made the final score a romp.
“You’re trying to keep positive, but it’s hard,” Larkin said. “What do you say? The first two (goals against) you’re like we have to focus on ourselves and get on the forecheck and build momentum and that didn’t happen. We just continued to shoot ourselves in the foot and turn pucks over and make it real hard on ourselves and make it hard on ourselves to get up the ice and attack.
“We just gave the puck away to them and let them have freebies by the net.”
The Red Wings (7-4-3) now embark on a four-game road trip, California (Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose) and winding up in Columbus next Saturday.
“That was five games in eight days and we looked tired,” Lalonde said. “I could feel it in practice (Wednesday), even through two periods, at 2-2, we didn’t really have the same pop we’ve had our last couple of games. So it’s a reset and and we’ll get out there and play another good team (Los Angeles) on Saturday.”
Veleno notched his second goal, tying the game 1-1 late in the first period, with Jonatan Berggren earning the primary assist in Berggren’s first NHL game.
Olli Maatta found Berggren near the side-boards, and Berggren patiently found Veleno skating the slot. Veleno snapped a shot past Shesterkin at 18:46, earning Berggren his first NHL point.
“We didn’t have a lot of pop and energy as a group, and he (Berggren) did,” said Lalonde, adding the Wings will take Berggren along on the road trip, what with several Wings still bothered by injuries.
Zibanejad had given the Rangers a 1-0 lead just three minutes earlier.
Zibanejad won the draw and got the puck to Fox near the point. Fox found Zibanejad free near the hash-marks for a one-timer, which Zibanejad unleashed past Husso for Zibanejad’s eighth goal at 15:40.
Raymond broke the 1-1 tie in the second period with his sixth goal, all in the last seven games. Dylan Larkin intercepted a clearing attempt by K’Andre Miller and found Raymond in the slot, where Raymond snapped a quick shot past Shesterkin at 7:33.
But the Rangers answered on the power play.
Fox found Panarin near the dot, and Panarin fed Kreider with a deft pass near the post, Kreider redirecting the puck past Husso for his sixth goal at 10:54.