The Red Wings continue to lose games and players at a steady pace.
They lost Wednesday at Minnesota, 4-1 to the Wild, seeing the Wings’ winless streak extended to four games.
Elmer Soderblom, recalled earlier in the day to replace Dylan Larkin (lower-body), scored the Red Wings’ goal, while goalie Magnus Hellberg stopped 18 shots in his Wings’ regular-season debut.
But the losing streak continued and the Wings (13-10-6) also lost another player.
The Wings saw defenseman Filip Hronek exit early in the first period after Hronek was on the receiving end of a thunderous hit by Minnesota’s Ryan Reaves.
Hronek was attempting to skate up ice when he glanced to the left, turned his head but didn’t see Reaves come skating toward him and unleash a powerful open-ice hit that put Hronek on the ice.
The league is likely to see where the principal point of contact by Reaves was. There was no penalty on the play, but it did appear Reaves did make some contact with Hronek’s head, which was angled low upon the hit.
Hronek was down on the ice, but gradually got up and skated off the ice with some help. Hronek didn’t return to the game.
The Wings were already without Larkin, who injured a hand blocking a shot Tuesday against Carolina (coach Derek Lalonde had a further update), Tyler Bertuzzi (hand), Filip Zadina (lower-body), Robby Fabbri (knee), Jakub Vrana (NHL/NHLPA players assistance program) and Olli Maatta (non-COVID illness).
Hellberg got the start in net, his first this season after being claimed on waivers several weeks ago.
With Alex Nedeljkovic struggling, and Ville Husso getting overworked, Hellberg became a viable option with no goaltender standing out in Grand Rapids.
Hellberg actually played the regular season finale last season for the Wings and defeated New Jersey, before not being re-signed in the off-season. The Wings are the third organization Hellberg has been with this season (Ottawa, Seattle the others).
Frederick Gaudreau had two goals (a power play, and empty net), while Matt Dumba and Mats Zuccarello added the Wild (16-11-2) goals, as goaltender Filip Gustavsson stopped 16 shots.
Soderblom cut the lead to 2-1 with his third goal at 18:41 of the second period.
Soderblom intercepted a clearing pass by Minnesota’s Calen Addison and fed Erne, who attempted a wraparound and got the puck knocked free. But Erne fed Soderblom down low, who snapped a shot past Gustavsson.
But any momentum the Wings generated was thwarted by Zuccarello’s goal.
Zuccarello became entangled with defenseman Ben Chiarot, with Chiarot dropping his stick believing a penalty to Zuccarello was forthcoming. But there was no penalty, and Zuccarello, on his knees on the ice, beat Hellberg for his 10th goal at 18:53, restoring the two-goal Minnesota lead.
The Wings may have lost some of their focus after Reaves’ hit, generating only two shots for the period.
Minnesota got on the board with Gaudreau (power play) notching his sixth goal in the first period.
Sam Steel found Gaudreau in the slot, and Gaudreau snapped a shot through a moving screen past Hellberg at 14:37.
The Wings had won their three previous second games on second nights. But the combination of Wings’ growing injury list and the Wings’ offensive struggles hurt them against Minnesota.