Magnus Hellberg: Detroit Red Wings felt ‘enough was enough’ after tough stretch

Detroit Free Press

ST. LOUIS — The Detroit Red Wings head into their final dozen games fortified by having something to show for playing the right way.

Their rematch with the St. Louis Blues on Thursday on home ice looks much more appealing for having won, 3-2, in a shootout Tuesday at Enterprise Center. It has been a rough go for the Wings since they were inside the playoff picture on Feb. 23, their 3-9-1 record since reflecting losing players to the trade deadline and injuries.

“You felt from the team that enough is enough,” goaltender Magnus Hellberg said after denying four shootout attempts and 20 shots over the first 65 minutes. “We are tired of losing; it has been a tough stretch. We needed this as a group, and this is great momentum to build off. I think it shows a lot of character from our team that we come up with a win.”

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Encouraging for their coach, the Wings (31-30-9) responded well after giving up an early goal, and then another goal that put them behind, 2-1. It was 2-2 after the first period.

“We 100% we got what we deserved,” Derek Lalonde said. “Really appreciated the effort from the guys, on a back-to-back with travel, and then to get down early. I loved our second. We didn’t have them register a chance for in the second. It was good. Good third. Loved how we hung in there and found a way in the shootout.

“Unfortunately three of our last four [games] have been very similar — we were very good in Nashville, we managed the puck, didn’t give up a ton. It was similar against Colorado. We cannot play like we did against Florida — easy offense, turnovers. Here, we got back to playing the right way.”

The Wings didn’t let the Blues get much at Hellberg after the first period. (The goal he gave up to Marco Scandella left Lalonde shaking his head in disbelief. Hellberg looked like he wasn’t ready. “A tough one,” Lalonde called it.) Granted, the Blues are also headed in the direction of the draft lottery, but the Wings were the team playing for the second time in 24 hours.

“A lof of these performances that we have been good enough to win, we haven’t found a way to win recently,” David Perron said. “Newsy brought up a good point — part of building a process sometimes is getting those wins.

“I think it’s just important to keep building for the future. You don’t miss the playoffs by 20 points and then the next year, you get in and you start making damage. You have to knock on the door, we have to get close, we have to get wins and get that feeling of playing the right way, that it’s important for the team.”

As the losses piled up over the past month, the Wings have talked about having something to play for, about making games meaningful. Winning a game against a team that isn’t in the playoff picture may not seem like much, but the Wings needed a morale booster, and gave themselves one.

“I understand what the guys are going through, they keep taking punch after punch — the deadline, the injuries,” Lalonde said. “It just seems never ending. The guys took a lot of pride and hopefully we can look very similar Thursday.”

Contact Helene St. James at 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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