Amid slump, Red Wings searching for needed victory before holiday break

Detroit News

Detroit — The NHL closes down for a three-day holiday break beginning Saturday.

The Red Wings have two games before then — Wednesday hosting Tampa and Friday in Ottawa.

In its most simplistic and basic form, and especially after this current six-game winless streak (0-4-2), the Wings need a victory.

The Wings are suddenly looking up at a bunch of teams in the standings, and those thoughts of being in the playoff hunt are looking murky.

Again, the Wings need a win.

“Definitely, if we want to be in the playoff picture, we want to get out of this (slump) quick as possible,” Oskar Sundqvist said. “I’m sure we’ll turn it around. We have to get back to playing (the way we did) starting the season.”

Monday’s 4-3 overtime loss in Washington looked similar in ways to the other five losses. The Wings were good on special teams against the Capitals, not as good at even strength. Other nights, it’s been the exact opposite.

There simply haven’t been enough full 60-minute performances where everything clicked.

“Could we be better than 0-4-2? Probably,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “There are some stretches we’re doing some good things, but it’s not complete. Big picture, did we overachieve a little bit with that start (to the season)? Maybe. But, we’re underachieving with this 0-4-2 stretch. We’re better than that, and can be better than that.”

Some lapses against Washington, while the Wings were leading the game, came back to haunt the Wings.

“We need to stick to playing full 60-minute hockey,” Sundqvist said. “Too many times in periods, we’ve let up goals and we need to close those periods out. Even in tough stretches during the game, we have to keep the puck out of our net and come back to the locker room with a lead.

“We need to be working with maybe a little more detail (oriented) in our game. We need to find a way to get out of it.”

Playing a team (Tampa) that has been to the Stanley Cup Finals three consecutive times and won two of those years isn’t the best way, possibly, to get out of a losing streak. But, the Wings have to start somewhere.

“When you get on streaks like this, the only way to get out of it is go right through,” Jordan Oesterle said. “In Washington, we played a good, I’d say, 40 or 50 minutes and let them kind of take over when they made their push. It’s just taking better care of the details.”

Roster move

The Wings assigned forward Austin Czarnik to the minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins.

Czarnik, 30, played in 12 games with the Wings, with three points (two goals, one assist), two penalty minutes and a plus-one rating while averaging 11 minutes 27 seconds of ice time.

In 12 games with the Griffins, Czarnik has six goals and eight assists for 14 points.

Czarnik was in Monday’s lineup, while Elmer Soderblom was a healthy scratch. Soderblom is scheduled to be back in the lineup against Tampa.

“It’s just to give Elmer an opportunity,” Lalonde said of the roster move. “We gave Czarnik the opportunity (Monday) over Elmer, and we want to give Elmer an opportunity in this next game. It makes sense if any one of these guys aren’t playing with us and Grand Rapids is playing (Thursday and Friday), it just makes sense (for them to play there).”

Ice chips

Lalonde said goaltender Ville Husso will start against Tampa, with no decision yet on the Ottawa game.

“We’ll take it game by game,” Lalonde said. “It’s frustrating to be here in this 0-4-2 stretch and Ville has played well within that. This was the first game (Monday) we faced volume (of shots, 42). We’ll be smart with his workload.”

… Jakub Vrana continues to practice but will not be in the lineup against Tampa. Vrana returned Friday from a two-month stay in the NHL/NHLPA assistance program. Lalonde hinted there could be a brief conditioning stint with the Griffins to get Vrana’s conditioning up to speed.

“We pushed him in practice (Tuesday) hard,” Lalonde said. “(General manager Steve Yzerman) and I will meet again about what’s the best route. We’ve talked about putting him in (to the lineup), or is (Grand Rapids) the best option? He’s literally been out two and a half months. We’ll evaluate where he was in practice and discuss. We just want him to be in the best situation to be successful when he does return.”

Lightning at Red Wings

▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Little Caesars Arena

▶ TV/radio: BSD-Plus/97.1 FM

▶ Outlook: The Lightning (20-9-1) were one of the hottest teams in the NHL heading into Tuesday’s game in Toronto. Tampa has the third-best goals per game (3.67), fifth-best power play (27.4 percent) and seventh-best penalty kill (81%). RW Nikita Kucherov (47 points) and G Andrei Vaslievskiy (13-8-1, 2.55 GAA) lead a star-studded lineup.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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