DETROIT – The search for more offense is underway.
The Red Wings, who are 1-4-1 in the past six games while averaging 1.83 goals in that stretch, are anxious for offense from forward lines other than the top trio led by captain Henrik Zetterberg.
Coach Jeff Blashill juggled the lines before tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Darren Helm returned to centering the third line, Luke Glendening moved back to center the fourth line and Dylan Larkin rejoined Zetterberg’s line as a winger.
First-period goals haven’t come easy for the Red Wings in the first month of the season.
Friday night was no different.
Detroit has registered four first-period goals in 10 games, scoring twice in the opener against Toronto and last Friday at Calgary.
The Wings haven’t scored in eight of 10 first periods.
Jimmy Howard kept the game scoreless by making a number of key saves. His first big stop came when he gloved Mika Zibanejad’s shot after the Senators’ center and Bobby Ryan cruised into the Red Wings zone on a 2 on 1 rush. Jonathan Ericsson, who was the one Wing back, marked Ryan, which left Zibanejad with only one option that he fired into Howard’s glove.
Senators goalie Andrew Hammond stopped all 10 shots he faced.
Detroit definitely had a few opportunities, set up by Larkin. During his fourth shift of the period, he created two great chances, the first came when he wheeled around the Senators’ net and swept a pass out front that handcuffed Zetterberg.
Moments later, Larkin picked up steam as he rushed through the neutral zone, crossed the blue line and made a pretty drop pass to Jakub Kindl. Unfortunately, the defenseman’s shot was blocked by Erik Karlsson.
The Senators struck first when Kyle Turris muscled his way in front of Howard. Taking a drop pass from Mark Stone, the Sens center fought through Glendening and Danny DeKeyser to get the puck under Howard’s pads.
OTTAWA 1, DETROIT 0
SCORING: 1. OTT, Turris (Stone), 18:46.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Abdelkader (holding the stick), 14:45; 2. OTT, Ceci (holding), 19:14.
SHOTS: Detroit 10, Ottawa 12.
The Red Wings’ power play had more than a few chances in the middle frame. They even a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities. They missed on the first, but finally buried a goal on their second two-man advantage to cut their deficit in half late in the period.
The Wings’ had a great chance to even the score at 1-1 when Larkin was in the right place at the right time on the team’s first power play of the period, but he missed a wide-open net. Hammond directed a rebound off of Teemu Pulkkinen’s absolute missile of a shot that went directly to Larkin, but the rookie misfired, sending a shot through the blue paint between Hammond and the cage.
Moments after Larkin’s chance, the Red Wings had their first 5 on 3 – this one for 25 seconds – when Zack Smith hooked Larkin to the ice. Detroit had one quality shot when Zetterberg fluttered a shot from the top of the left face-off circle, but Hammond had enough time to flash his catching glove and snag the puck out of the air.
The Senators built a two-goal lead when Matt Puempel scored his first of the season.
Ottawa nearly had a three-goal cushion but Karlsson’s point shot hit the post to the left of Howard with about 8 minutes to go in the period.
Detroit finally snapped an 0-for-8 power-play drought at the 19-minute mark. While working a 5 on 3, Pulkkinen fired a shot that was blocked. The puck ricocheted to Zetterberg who beat Hammond who made a valiant diving effort but couldn’t get to the puck in time.
OTTAWA 2, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. OTT, Puempel (Ryan, Karlsson), 10:10; 2. DET, Zetterberg (Pulkkinen, Nyquist), 17:00.
PENALTIES: 1, OTT, Neil (tripping), 3:13; 2. OTT, Smith (hooking), 4:48; 3. DET, Jurco (holding), 6:53; 4. OTT, Ceci (hooking), 15:44; 5. Smith (slashing), 16:37; 6. DET, Smith (tripping), 18:56.
SHOTS: Detroit 11 (21), Ottawa 8 (20).
In an effort to create some energy, Blashill shuffled the lines, replacing Riley Sheahan as the second-line center with Darren Helm.
The move, however, didn’t pay dividends for Detroit.
The Wings were out-shot in the period, 15-9, but again, it was young Larkin, who showed why he belongs in the NHL. The rookie sensation set up his linemates early in the period, but Hammond snuffed out the scoring chance started by Larkin on tic-tac-toe passes to Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader, who put the puck into the goalie’s pads.
Blashill pulled Howard with 2 ½ minutes to go in regulation and called a timeout with 1:39 remaining. But Ryan chipped in his second empty-net goal of the season, giving the Senators a 3-1 lead with 55 seconds left.
Detroit registered a season-high 30 shots. It’s the first loss in regulation for the Red Wings when they’ve scored a power-play goal. They are 0-4-1 when they have generated in on the man advantage.
The Red Wings and Senators will conclude their home-and-home, two-game series Saturday night at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
OTTAWA 3, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. OTT, Ryan EN (Michalek, Turris), 19:05.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Kindl (hooking), 8:59.
SHOTS: Detroit 9 (30), Ottawa 15 (35).