Even-keeled Detroit Red Wings eye big opportunity in Ottawa. Here’s why

Detroit Free Press

The consensus from the Detroit Red Wings was to move on from Saturday night’s 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay and eye the opportunity in Ottawa.

They play a back-to-back there to open the week, adding a game Tuesday to the Monday one that was on the original schedule because a Dec. 23 contest was postponed by a snow storm. The Wings go into the series off a loss at home, but blame that on Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 45 shots in a shutout at Little Caesars Arena.

“We’re not trying to get too low here,” Dylan Larkin said. “We played a pretty good game, one of our best games five-on-five in a long time. We just didn’t score. We can’t get too down. It’s a great opportunity on the road in Ottawa. Our power play has been good on the road and we have been playing well on the road, so we need to show up for the rest of the way. You’re not going to win them all, but we put ourselves in a great position; we just have to keep playing like that.”

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Since a three-game losing streak in mid-January, the Wings have gone 10-5, including a five-game winning streak. They bounced back from a loss at the Seattle Kraken on Feb. 18 with a victory at the Washington Capitals three days later, then, albeit briefly, moved into a wild-card spot with a victory against the New York Rangers on Thursday. That’s why the Wings are confident losing one game won’t lead to losing another.

“With all this winning we’ve done lately, I think we’ve done a good job of not getting too high,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “And I think that has led to good performance after good performance. It’s the same message on a low – don’t get too low.

“It’s going to be a really fun chase for a playoff spot. Embrace it. But these are the things that go into it. It would be really easy to put your head down and feel sorry for yourself, but we could have won.”

The mini-series against the Senators intrigues because they’re among the teams the Wings are battling with for a playoff spot. The Wings (28-22-8) are four points up on the Senators (28-26-4); adding four points to Detroit’s bank while simultaneously keeping them from the Senators would significantly widen the Wings’ lead on at least one challenger.

“We’ve talked in this room about how we just can’t get on a run and we lose a couple and win a couple,” Larkin said. “Since the All-Star break we’ve had losses but we’ve responded really well and we are going to have to do that again, and we are going to have to do that the rest of the way. We’re not going to win out — it would be awesome if we did, but it’s pretty unrealistic. So we have to keep responding well. We are treating this like our playoffs right now, because it is. We are fighting for our lives.”

SATURDAY’S ACTION:Detroit Red Wings blanked by Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, 3-0

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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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.

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