DETROIT – The Red Wings extended their point streak to seven games (4-0-3) on Sunday, however, six of those contests were decided in overtime after the team failed to protect leads late in the third periods.
The latest collapse occurred in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss, which was made possible when Florida forward Reilly Smith scored with 5:22 left in regulation.
“For most of the games we’ve played pretty well in,” defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. “I thought a lot of the second periods is when we brought most of our energy and had the most chances, but then we can’t score enough goals or can’t get that one extra goal that gives us a little more breathing room. It’s then a tighter one-goal game and one mistake and it’s in our net, then it’s a tie game and that’s what’s been going on lately.”
Four other times this season, the opposition has scored with less than 2 ½ minutes left in regulation to force three-on-three overtime.
“We’ve talked about it, but I don’t know,” fourth-line center Luke Glendening said. “It’s been frustrating. I think it’s been my line the last four games or five games here, so we have to figure that one, I mean, find a way to hold on.”
The Red Wings have gone to overtime nine times already this season, which is the most they’ve played in the first two months of any season since the league reintroduced the extra period in 1983.
The most OT games the Red Wings played in a single season is 27, which occurred in the 1997 Stanley Cup championship season when they finished with a 38-26-18 record.
In the past 18 games, the Wings have surrendered seven OT-forcing goals in the third periods, fortunately, they pulled out wins in four of those games.
Still, it’s a disturbing trend that the players can’t seem to put a finger on.
“Maybe we’re taking out foot off the gas a bit, I don’t know,” Glendening said. “I don’t think it’s a work-ethic thing or anything like that. But we have to capitalize on our chances and minimize theirs.”
Despite being on the ice for the last two tying goals in the third period, fourth-line forward Drew Miller thinks it’s a matter of every player performing on every shift.
“We’re getting leads and playing pretty well for most of the game, but we’re not closing it out 60 minute games so that’s something we have to improve on,” Miller said. “I think we have a lot of positives to build off of and play with. Obviously you don’t want to give up leads late in the third period, but I don’t think it’s something we’re going to worry about. Next time we do I don’t think we’re going to be gripping our sticks tight and thinking, ‘Oh no, we’re going to give up a lead’. I don’t think it’s anything like that.”
POWER-PLAY WOES: The Wings placed an extra emphasis on the power play at Monday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena.
The special-teams unit has struggled lately, going 0-for-9 in the past three games, which equals their longest goal-production drought of the season when they went 0-for-11 from Oct. 16-21.
“Obviously hasn’t been good enough here for a while,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We actually worked on it a lot on Saturday as well and it didn’t pay off yesterday unfortunately when we needed it to, but that doesn’t mean you stop working on it. We want to get back to the basics a little bit on our power play and hopefully it has a positive impact come tomorrow night.”
November wasn’t a good month as the power play finished at 4-for-37 in 13 games. Detroit had the second-best power play last season, but now ranks No. 26 in the league with 15.8 percent.
Blashill said he hopes to put Teemu Pulkkinen back in the lineup Tuesday when the Red Wings host the Buffalo Sabres. A natural sniper, Pulkkinen would definitely add a heavy shot to the power play.
“A couple things, he’s had fairly good production and he’s an element on the power play with his shot,” Blashill said. “If we want to deliver more pucks to the net, I think he will and that was part of the through process.”
Blashill indicated that Pulkkinen would replace Tomas Jurco in the lineup and skate on the fourth line with Miller and Glendening.
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 6 | Assists: 5 | Pts: 11
Shots: 45 | +/-: 2
With Pulkkinen drawing back into the lineup, Blashill has moved Darren Helm
to a top-six position on the second line with center Pavel Datsyuk
and Brad Richards
Blashill is hoping the reassignment will get Helm more involved offensively. Helm is without a goal in 20 games this season.
“Probably what we did today we’ll do tomorrow,” Blashill said. “We put Helmer with Pav and Richie. Gives a little more speed and net presence, a little more of a role on a specific line. He’s been good at it before. Pav had 65 points in 63 games, and a lot of that was playing with Helm. We’ll see how that goes.”
OTHER LINEUP CHANGES: Blashill said that Petr Mrazek will face the Sabres on Tuesday, and that Jimmy Howard’s next start will come Thursday when the Red Wings host the Arizona Coyotes. … Defenseman Brendan Smith, who was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s OT loss, will return to the lineup Tuesday in place of Jakub Kindl.
JERSEY RETIREMENT FOR ABBY: Justin Abdelkader
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 5 | Assists: 7 | Pts: 12
Shots: 39 | +/-: -3
and his parents plan to attend a very special night in Iowa in a few weeks.
Abdelkader’s former USHL team, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders will send his No. 9 to the rafters of the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena on Dec. 12.
“I was really surprised,” Abdelakder said about getting the phone call. “I don’t think they’ve retired any numbers, so it’s really unique.”
The Red Wings’ forward played one season – 2004-05 – with the RoughRiders, producing 27 goals and 52 points before returning to his home state to play for Michigan State.
Back then, Abdelkader got to pick his number, which he said was a tribute to another Michigan-born player.
“I always liked watching Mike Modano with that 9 jersey flying behind him,” he said. “I always liked it.”
Living away from home as a 17-year-old was made easy by his billets – Kelly and Todd Schmidt and their four children.
“It was nice to have a family atmosphere being a senior in high school and being a way for the first year. It was a nice spot to be.”
The first 1,000 fans at the game against the Omaha Lancers will receive an Abdelkader bobblehead.