Detroit — The Red Wings got back into the win column Tuesday but coach Derek Lalonde wasn’t around to see it.
David Perron scored two late goals (three in the third period), a power play goal then at even strength 45 seconds later at 17 minutes 5 seconds, completing a hat trick and sending the Wings to a 7-4 victory.
Perron snapped the tie with a one-timer from the dot, breaking a 4-4 tie on the power play, at 16:20.
Dylan Larkin capped the late barrage with an empty net goal, his 27th goal, with 37 seconds left in the game.
The Wings (32-32-9) won for only the fourth time in the last 16 games.
But Lalonde wasn’t around to see it.
Lalonde was ejected in the second period for loudly, and with a wee bit of profanity judging from the video, arguing a goalie interference challenge that did not go the Wings’ way. The goal, by Pittsburgh’s Jeff Carter, tied the game 3-3, the Penguins’ third goal in 4 minutes 1 second to erase a three-goal Wings’ lead.
On Carter’s goal, it appeared Penguins forward Bryan Rust (Troy/Birmingham Brother Rice) had his stick in the crease and may have pushed goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic’s skate (with the puck underneath it) past the goal line.
But the officials disagreed, putting the Penguins on another power play, though Pittsburgh didn’t convert.
And Lalonde, protesting and in disbelief, pressing to understand what goalie interference exactly is then, was tossed from the bench.
Perron and Pittsburgh’s Josh Archibald traded early third period goals to keep the game tied 4-4.
The Penguins, trailing 3-1, got back into the game on the power play.
Just before Carter’s goal, Evgeni Malkin capitalized on a Penguins two-man advantage, beating Nedeljkovic with a shot from the high slot, cutting the Wings lead to 3-2.
Jason Zucker began the Pittsburgh second period comeback with his 25th goal, at even strength, batting a rebound past Nedeljkovic at 4:40.
Jonatan Berggren (power play), Andrew Copp and Dominik Kubalik had first period Wings goals, grabbing a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Lalonde talked after the morning skate about the Wings want to establish positive habits for the rest of this season, and into next season.
“We’re very realistic of where we are,” Lalonde said. “I stopped looking at our lineups versus their (opposing teams) lineups before the game because it gets me extremely depressed. It’s just the reality of it. We’ve flipped out 12 different players, including our starting goalie (injured Ville Husso) from where we were three, four weeks ago.
“But habits, last game was a perfect example, we didn’t give up much to Philadelphia but we gave up egregious odd-mans (rushes) and sloppy turnovers. Just play the right way, don’t give up easy offense and give yourself a chance.
“Those are points we’ll be emphasizing and holding them accountable.”
Pittsburgh (36-28-10) is again challenging for a playoff berth, with veteran stars Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang leading the way. Despite their advancing age, Lalonde isn’t surprised by the Penguins’ success.
“Doing the scouting and watching the last three games, the impact they had on the Colorado game, a must-win game for them, how they’ve been playing, those are world class players,” Lalonde said. “Is it the same motor every single night through 82 games? Of course not. But they are world class difference makers, just pros, and they know how to manage their games.
“We’re going to see them twice (in the next two weeks). This is a great challenge; this is what a playoff team pushing looks like and what a superstar(s) looks like. It’s going to be a pretty good experience for our guys.”
Berggren opened the game’s scoring with his 13th goal, ending an 11-game goal-scoring drought. Talking about Berggren earlier in the week, Lalonde felt Berggren was learning about the long NHL season, and especially this time of year near the playoffs.
“That adrenaline maybe has worn off,” Lalonde said. “”It’s a hard league this time of year, too. People are fighting for position. The league ramps up a little at the end of the year, so it’s a good experience for him to fight through.”