There is something especially frustrating about having possession of the puck for most of an overtime period but still losing.
Hence why Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde didn’t hesitate to reply, “Right now, I hate it,” when asked about the extra session Monday. The Wings (13-8-6) dropped their second consecutive game on Saturday, falling in overtime to the Dallas Stars.
The Wings will try to get another winning streak going Tuesday when they host the Carolina Hurricanes, after losing for their fourth time in overtime this season. Detroit has only one overtime win to go with a 1-2 record in shootouts.
“It’s been really frustrating for us because we’ve out-chanced our opponents in our three-on-three time,” Lalonde said. “We’ve had almost 60% of possession. We’ve only given up seven chances against, and unfortunately four have ended up in the back of our net, and they have all been eerily similar.”
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That similarity is poor puck management. Saturday at Dallas, the Wings had possession the first four minutes of the possible five-minute stretch — but in the final minute, Dylan Larkin dropped a blind pass intended for Moritz Seider that the Stars intercepted and turned into a 3-2 celebration.
“Last game I didn’t manage it and we lost,” Larkin said. “It’s a tough feeling when you are the guy doing it, but it happens.
“For us, we are trying to do the right thing so much, it’s like, don’t turn it over, don’t turn it over. What are you going to do? You’re going to turn it over. We’re kind of playing with fear, and when you have fear, you’re not free, and you look at all the best players, they play free and with confidence. We need to get that back in our game in overtime. It should be the time when there is more ice and you are flying around and if miss the net or turn it over, you have to get back and get the puck back.”
The Wings spent part of Monday’s practice working on three-on-three situations. Ville Husso manned one net, because he will start against the Hurricanes, while Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg shared the other. Lalonde had not decided who will start Wednesday at Minnesota, and did not rule out Husso again. Defenseman Olli Määtta (non-COVID illness) did not practice and has not played the last two games; Lalonde does not expect him to be available Tuesday.
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Dominik Kubalik has the Wings’ only overtime goal this season, coming Nov. 6 at the New York Rangers. In the Wings’ most recent overtime game prior to the Stars loss, it was Tyler Bertuzzi who turned the puck over and the Anaheim Ducks who made him pay, on Nov. 15.
“It’s almost an extension of our five-on-five play,” Lalonde said. “We’ve asked guys to manage their game five-on-five, it’s the same thing when it’s three-on-three. For me it’s not a structure issue, it’s a manage-your-game issue, with these just egregious turnovers that end up in the back of our net.
“Look at Dallas. We had the puck the entire overtime. Jamie Benn was out there for two-and-a-half minutes, but never panicked. He just owned the middle of the ice, he defended, didn’t get himself in trouble, finally got a change. Basically the first time they touched the puck, we gave it to them.”
It’s the gifting of a point that bugs Lalonde, not the three-on-three format the NHL adopted ahead of the 2015-16 season.
“We’re 1-4, 1-2 in a shootout,” Lalonde said. “That’s a lot of points we’ve left out there. But I like it. I think it’s good for the fans. I think it’s been great.”
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.