Sometimes things just all go wrong at once. For the Detroit Red Wings, Saturday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins was one of those times.
Ineffective power play? Check. Jonas Gustavsson suddenly looking shaky after a fantastic start to the season? Check. Having to watch Sidney Crosby light the lamp multiple times at the Joe? Double check.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had to scratch Kris Letang before the game, lost Deryk Engelland to a match penalty and saw Evgeni Malkin leave following a scary crash into the boards. Yet they still managed to outplay the Red Wings in most phases of the game, sending Detroit to a fairly depressing 4-1 defeat.
Niklas Kronwall staked the Wings to an early 1-0 lead, but that was about all the home fans (once they actually showed up) had to cheer about. Crosby scored on the power play at 9:08 of the first, and Malkin followed with one of his own 3:42 later, reaching 600 career points in the process.
Detroit got a great chance to tie or take the lead with 30 seconds left in the first when Engelland smashed Justin Abdelkader with an illegal hit to the head. But despite some decent chances from the second unit, especially Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, the Red Wings failed to score on the Penguins’ red hot penalty killers, who have denied 23 of 24 power plays over their last eight games.
The Penguins had extended their lead to 3-1 when Malkin collided awkwardly with the boards while racing back to break up a short handed chance by Luke Glendening early in the third period. He appeared to be unable to put any weight on his left leg while being helped to the locker room.
There would be no rally for the home team, as Crosby added his 18th of the season with 5:27 left in the game on a great feed from Joe Vitale to find him in the slot. It was the first time Gustavsson has allowed four goals in any of his 2013-14 starts.
Already fighting off the bite of the injury bug, the Red Wings will now be left wondering about the status of Abdelkader. He will go through concussion protocols and will not play Sunday when Detroit hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning.
But the Red Wings can’t afford to use injuries as an excuse. The Penguins just showed them how an undermanned team can still get it done. Now we’ll see if they learned anything.
The game was over when…
The Red Wings scored zero goals on Engelland’s major penalty. It’s always bad to go zero-for-five minutes, but the score was only 2-1 at that point, and even one goal could have changed the momentum in a big way. Consensus on Twitter was that the Wings were getting too cute and making too many passes, but the Penguins’ ragtag defensive unit of mostly inexperienced players deserves some credit too.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
Jakub Kindl, who made a lot of good things happen with the puck on his stick. Can’t fault his effort on what was otherwise a bummer of a night.