Coming into Thursday night's game, the Canadiens had lost 271 man-games to injuries.
Among the most devastating losses are goaltender Carey Price, who has not played since Nov. 25, forward Brendan Gallagher, out the last eight games, and defenseman Jeff Petry, out since Feb.7.
More recently, defenseman P.K. Subban has missed the last six games with a neck injury.
The team that started the season with nine straight wins has fallen to 13th in the Eastern Conference but that does not mean the Wings can take the Canadiens lightly.
"I think first of all when teams are out of the playoffs they can be dangerous," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "Certainly they have young, eager guys in the lineup that want to show that they are NHL players without really the pressure of having to win. I think there's such a fine line between teams in the NHL today that whether you're in the playoffs or you're out of the playoffs, you're a really good hockey team. A number of teams have proven that. We just played on in Columbus that was out and they were every bit as good as any team we've played that's in. I assume we'll get the same type of effort from Montreal tonight."
The Wings are in a season-long struggle in goal-scoring.
With 186 goals, the Wings are ahead of just Carolina (177), Buffalo (176), Toronto (174) and New Jersey (166) in the Eastern Conference.
"Obviously as a team we've had tough times to score goals," Gustav Nyquist said. "I'm included in that group for sure. I've struggled to put the puck in the net enough times. Obviously I'd like to score more and produce more points but you've just got to keep working. The most important thing right now is the playoffs. We've just got to make sure as a team that we get in, so that's our main focus."
Wings rookie Anthony Mantha makes his home debut in front of many family members and friends, including his grandfather, Andre Pronovost, who played for the Wings, the Boston Bruins, the Canadiens and the Minnesota North Stars.
On a scrum in front of the Detroit net, Petr Mrazek made the save and then the puck eventually worked itself loose as the Canadiens whacked away.
The puck did go in the net but it was ruled no goal because the whistle had blown for a Montreal penalty, cross-checking on Tomas Plekanec at 2:53.
The Wings got one shot but could not score with the man-advantage, the same result as when Torrey Mitchell took a tripping penalty at 10:10.
Max Pacioretty had a shorthanded partial breakaway with Dylan Larkin following quickly, but Mrazek made the save.
Then at 15:18, Mrazek was trying to clear the puck and sent it right to Pacioretty, whose shot went off of Mrazek's shoulder and over the net.
Mantha took a stick to the face late in the period but did not draw a penalty or miss any time.
At 18:46, Brendan Smith shot from the right circle and Riley Sheahan backhanded the rebound past goaltender Ben Scrivens. Mike Green got the second assist.
RED WINGS 1, CANADIENS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Riley Sheahan (10), Brendan Smith, Mike Green, 18:46.
PENALTIES: 1. MTL, minor, Tomas Plekanec, cross-checking, 2:53. 2. MTL, minor, Torrey Mitchell, tripping, 10:10.
SHOTS: Detroit 11, Montreal 13.
At 2:38, Smith had a big hit on Montreal forward Stefan Matteau, who went to the ice immediately.
Phillip Danault took exception and fought with Smith. Danault got four minutes for roughing while Smith had two.
Although the Wings did not capitalize on the power play, they did increase their lead shortly thereafter.
At 5:36, Luke Glendening picked up a loose puck and put it past Scrivens. Andreas Athanasiou and Darren Helm got the assists.
Just 12 seconds later, Sheahan got his second of the game on a breakaway, unassisted, for a 3-0 lead.
The Mantha family got what it was looking for at 17:27 of the period.
The Wings had a power play and Mantha was at the net and scooped up the rebound of Brad Richards' shot and buried it for his first NHL goal. Green got the second assist and the Wings had a 4-0 lead.
RED WINGS 4, CANADIENS 0
SCORING: 1. DET, Luke Glendening (7), Andreas Athanasiou, Darren Helm, 5:36. 2. DET, Riley Sheahan (11, 2nd of game), Brendan Smith, Pavel Datsyuk, 5:48. 3. DET, PPG, Anthony Mantha (1), Brad Richards, Mike Green, 17:27.
PENALTIES: 1. MTL, double minor, Phillip Danault, roughing, 2:38. Second penalty served by Mike Brown 2. DET, minor, Brendan Smith, roughing, 2:38. 3. MTL, minor, Nathan Beaulieu, high-sticking, 16:17.
SHOTS: Detroit 21 (32), Montreal 5 (18).
Plekanec shot from the left circle and Mrazek appeared to make the save but the puck ended up trickling through just 47 seconds into the period, ending the shutout bid and ending Plekanec's 19-game goalless drought.
The goal was unassisted.
In 17 games against the Wings, Plekanec has nine goals and five assists.
Things got worse when Paul Byron's rebound beat Mrazek at 4:16. Darren Dietz got the assist as the lead was cut to 4-2.
After a skirmish landed both Pacioretty and Abdelkader in the box for roughing, the Canadiens cut the lead to 4-3 after Pacioretty came out and scored at 7:50.
His shot from the right circle deflected off of Niklas Kronwall's skate and into the net.
Both Richards and Glendening had chances at 8:54 but Scrivens was able to make the saves.
At 10:59, things boiled over again as Matteau and Green had a go and got roughing calls.
The Canadiens pulled Scrivens with just over a minute left in the period.
Kyle Quincey was called for interference with 16.4 seconds left.
RED WINGS 4, CANADIENS 3
SCORING: 1. MTL, Tomas Plekanec (13), unassisted, :47. 2. MTL, Paul Byron (10), Darren Dietz, 4:16. 3. MTL, Max Pacioretty (25), Alex Galchenyuk, Joel Hanley, 7:50.
PENALTIES: 1. MTL, minor, Max Pacioretty, roughing, 5:43. 2. DET, minor, Justin Abdelkader, roughing, 5:43. 3. MTL, minor, Stefan Matteau, roughing, 10:59. 4. DET, minor, Mike Green, roughing, 10:59. 5. DET, minor, Kyle Quincey, interference, 19:43.
SHOTS: Detroit 8 (40), Montreal 11 (29)