The Detroit Red Wings‘ streak of facing playoff-caliber opponents finally ended, only to catch a team on a hot streak — and extend their losing streak to five games.
The Saturday matinee against the Ottawa Senators at Little Caesars Arena began well enough, and goalie Ville Husso did his best to give his teammates a chance to succeed. But special teams failed the Wings as they fell, 6-3.
Although they entered the game below the Wings in the standings, the Senators rolled into town on a three-game winning streak; they used their power play to challenge the Wings’ attempts to build a lead. When Claude Giroux scored midway through the third period, it was Ottawa’s third conversion on five power plays. The Wings were 1-for-6 on man advantages when they gave up a shorthanded goal to Tyler Motte (Michigan) past the halfway point of the third period. They had a seventh power play with 3:17 to play and pulled Husso to have two extra skaters, only to give up an empty-net goal off the draw to Austin Watson.
Joe Veleno and Adam Erne scored in the first period. Filip Hronek netted his seventh goal of the season during a power play in the second period.
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Healthy new looks
Hronek, Dylan Larkin and Olli Määttä were all in the lineup after recovering from various ailments. Larkin ended up missing just one game — Wednesday at Minnesota — after getting hit in the right hand area during Tuesday’s game. Hronek left Wednesday’s game two shifts in, following a blindside hit, but he was cleared from concussion protocol. Määttä had battled pneumonia the previous four games. Their availability — and the need for offense after being outscored 13–4 the previous four games — prompted new looks. Most notably, Andrew Copp was moved up to play left wing on Larkin’s line, and Dominik Kubalik was put on Veleno’s line with Elmer Söderblom.
The changes paid off right away, with Kubalik having a hand in Veleno getting the puck in the right circle and snapping a shot that got through Cam Talbot. That was 2:32 into the game. The Wings used a power play midway through the first period to build momentum, but the Senators pushed back at 12:47 when Drake Batherson fired a shot from just above the goal line that hit Husso and a goalpost and landed in the net. Having players in front of Ottawa’s net — Oskar Sundqvist and Erne — restored Detroit’s lead when Erne deflected Jake Walman’s shot from the blue line at 14:54, but Thomas Chabot tied the game again with a shot from the blue line at 18:42, during an Ottawa power play.
The Wings were scoreless on their past eight power plays over their past three games entering Saturday, and likewise had given up a penalty kill goal in each of the previous three games. Batherson scored his second of the day during a Senators power play early in the second period, right after the Wings had killed off a 5-on-3 that had Larkin and Ben Chiarot in the box. It took a 5-on-3 advantage for the Wings to finally convert for the first time since Dec. 8, with Hronek taking a pass from David Perron and snapping a shot that went bar down, at 12:14 of the second period.
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