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Loss means Wings need help Saturday

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur stopped 23 shots to post just his second career win at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – With a win over the New Jersey Devils Thursday night, and a loss by Nashville, the Red Wings could have sewn up the No. 4 seed, which carries with it home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Unfortunately, neither portion of the equation panned out for the Wings, who dropped a 2-1 decision to the visiting Devils, while Nashville blanked the Dallas Stars, 2-0.
“It’s still important, you want to finish as high as you can, you want to take advantage of the home-ice if you can, but if that doesn’t happen,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said, “you know that you have to play well on the road to have success, and that’s something that you have to do, so you’re still trying to finish as high as you can.”

With one game remaining, it’s still possible that the Wings can finish in the fourth, fifth or sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. However, a win over Chicago in Saturday’s season finale at JLA, coupled with a Predators loss in regulation at Colorado is the Wings’ lone chance of securing the No. 4 seed.

“Starting at home and also having that seventh one at home with this crowd, obviously that would be big deal,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “But I think the main focus for us right now is we have to play for 60-minutes a night to win games. That would be our main focus.”

With the exception of Tomas Holmstrom’s power-play goal in the second period Thursday, the Wings couldn’t scrape together a complete, solid performance against the Devils and perennial All-Star goalie Martin Brodeur.

The Wings made life easy for Broduer, who stopped 23 shots in winning for just the second time at Joe Louis Arena during his illustrious NHL career. Detroit had won nine in a row at home against the Devils, dating back to Nov. 6, 1996.

“I didn't think they generated much and I didn't think we generated much, but that's what I expected before the game started,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I knew it was going to be grinder right from the get-go. We were stretched last night to overtime and I thought we really pushed our big players hard last night. … I was hoping for more out of my bottom six, more o-zone time and grind time to kind of buy some time for those other guys and that never happened.”

Trailing 1-0 in the second period, the Wings pulled even when Jiri Hudler made a terrific heads-up play to tie the score. After taking a pass from Valtteri Filppula, Hudler skated in on Brodeur, drawing the Devils’ goalie out of the crease. Once he had Brodeur committed and out of position Hudler made a cross-ice pass to Holmstrom, who had an open net to shot at.

The Wings managed just four shots on goal in the final 20-minutes Thursday. It was the 13th time that Detroit’s offense has been held to one or no goals this season. And since blistering Columbus for seven goals last week, the Wings have scored a total of seven goals in regulation in the last five games.

“I don’t think we’re getting the puck to the net as much,” Lidstrom said. “I think we have the shots, but we’re not getting the puck there and with traffic for rebounds and some of the second chances. Some of the chances we’re one and done, we take the shot and they’re going the other way with it.”

Thursday loss was disappointing particular since it came in the heels of Wednesday’s incredible 3-2 shootout win at St. Louis in which the team bounced back from a 2-0 deficit.

“We had a couple of games where I thought we played stronger and it felt like we were going,” Lidstrom said. “Then last night we had a real strong effort in St. Louis where we came from behind to get two-points in a shootout, and tonight I don’t think we had that much gas. We had it in bits and pieces, but not for the whole game, so we’re not quite where we want to be heading into the playoffs and we have one more game before everything starts.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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