If the Detroit Red Wings wanted to make their fans feel better about the fact that they made no moves at the trade deadline, this wasn’t the way to do it.
The Wings were on the road Thursday night to face the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that actually shipped several veteran players out during deadline day. They didn’t miss them though, as the desert dwellers rode a lopsided second period to a 4-2 victory over the Red Wings a Jobing.com Arena.
It didn’t start out so depressing for the visitors, who took an early 1-0 lead. Sent on the power play just 54 seconds after the puck dropped, the Red Wings were able to work the puck into the slot for Gustav Nyquist, and his deflected shot found its way onto the stick of Valtteri Filppula. The winger’s backhand found a wide open net for his first goal since March 15.
The Red Wings took that lead into the first intermission, but the second stanza looked like a completely different game. An innocent looking point shot by Michael Stone found its way past Jimmy Howard 1:47 in, and former Detroit grinder Chris Conner finished off a two-on-one with Mikkel Boedker at the 8:08 mark.
In a period full of breakdowns and mental lapses by the Wings, the worst came with just under four minutes to play. A bad line change combined with some blown coverage to free Shane Doan up right in front of the net, and he easily converted his 12th goal of the season. Phoenix outshot Detroit by an astonishing 20-5 for the period.
A relatively uneventful third frame offered some late drama courtesy of the ever popular delay of game call. Boedker put the puck into the stands with 1:23 left, and with Howard pulled, Daniel Cleary deflected in a shot from a sharp angle to cut the lead to 3-2. But there was to be no late game heroics from Henrik Zetterberg and company, as Martin Hanzal sealed up the win with an empty netter in the final second.
Despite no looking his sharpest, Howard made 34 saves on 37 shots and couldn’t do much about two of the three goals he allowed. The defensive hijinks make it natural to wonder if highly touted college free agent signing Danny Dekeyser will see his first action of the season Friday at Colorado.
The Red Wings remain in seventh place in the Western Conference following the loss, but the Coyotes helped themselves pull within two points of eighth in a playoff race that has only eliminated three teams. The moves Detroit didn’t make on Wednesday had more to do with the future than this year, but there’s still the matter of that NHL-best postseason streak, and games like this one are bound to make fans nervous as the season enters the stretch run.
The game was over when…
It didn’t end after 20 minutes. The Wings came out with surprising jump and looked good in the first period, getting most of the chances and passing the puck well on the power play. You got the feeling that they should have had more than a one-goal lead to show for it, though, and that indeed turned out to be the case when the wheels came off in the second.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
Depressing losses always make me want to not hand it out at all, but let’s go with Nyquist here. He was one of the biggest reasons the power play looked so threatening early on, and he and Pavel Datsyuk were pretty much the only skaters making anything positive happen after the game started heading south.