Detroit Red Wings unable to gain ground in playoff race, lose, 6-2, at Ottawa Senators

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings’ hunt for a playoff spot hit a rut in the first of back-to-back games against one of the other teams giving chase.

The Wings made so many tracks to the visitors penalty box Monday at Canadian Tire Centre, there was little chance to make a game of it against the Ottawa Senators. The Wings lost their second straight, falling 6-2.

The teams play again Tuesday. The Wings (28-23-8) are three points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, and now have only a two-point buffer on the Senators. Backup goaltender Magnus Hellberg got the start and made 36 saves.

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Tyler Bertuzzi and David Perron scored to build a 1-0, then a 2-1 lead, but six penalties over the first two periods proved overwhelming. It was the Wings’ first game since losing Michael Rasmussen indefinitely after he took a puck off his right knee cap, but they regained the services of Lucas Raymond after an eight-game absence nursing a lower-body injury. Jakub Vrana spent a second straight game as a healthy scratch, after being a part of last week’s victories against the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.

The Wings started well enough, with Bertuzzi scoring an opportunistic goal just past the halfway point of the first period. He was coming over the boards when he saw a turnover developing, and slid towards Ottawa’s zone as Pius Suter wired the puck to him. Bertuzzi cut to the net, faked wide and drove home the puck for his fourth goal of the season.

The Wings were on their third penalty kill when the Senators took advantage in the second period. Jake Sanderson fired a shot from the blue line that flew through traffic and in behind Hellberg. He had 15 saves when the Senators tied it at 3:41.

Perron countered 11 seconds into the Wings’ first power play, firing the puck short-side from the left circle to collect his first power play goal since Dec. 28. Perron was in the box when Drake Batherson improved the Senators to 2-for-5 on power plays, sending the puck blocker-side on Hellberg. Claude Giroux followed up with an even-strength goal at 14:10, driving straight up the middle to beat Hellberg at the crease.

Brady Tkachuk doubled the Senators’ lead when he sent a wrist shot glove side with two minutes to play in the second period.

Tom Chabot piled on in the opening minute of the third period, coming up the flank and sliding ot the net, pushing aside Filip Hronek and tucking the puck behind Hellberg. Tim Stützle scored a fifth straight unanswered goal with five minutes to play.

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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