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Power play stalls in loss to Canadiens

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Riley Sheahan scored the Red Wings only goal and had a very good night in the face-off circle against Montreal Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – The Red Wings had been living right this month, but Sunday was one of those nights that they’d rather soon forget.

With the exception of Riley Sheahan’s second goal of the season nothing went Detroit’s way in a lopsided 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Joe Louis Arena.

“We didn’t do much good tonight,” coach Mike Babcock said. “All you got to do is look at the shots on net. We had three shots in the second period and we knew they were going to be backing on the inside. We knew we were going to have to shoot to break them down but we didn’t execute and we paid the price for it. The team that was supposed to win tonight as far as effort and execution did and the team that didn’t get that done lost.”

Even the Wings’ power play – which has been clicking on all cylinders with six goals in the past four games – sputtered through the first two periods against the Habs. Though the power play eventually broke through, Detroit managed two shots on its first four chances on the man advantage, and just 10 shots all together through the first 40 minutes of action.

Detroit did turn it around some in the third, firing 19 shots at Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski, but by then the rookie was dialed in. The Red Wings finished with a 29-19 edge in shots.

“I think both teams played tight in front of the net, it was tough to get anything through there,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “You had to go through a lot of guys to get the puck there, but saying that, we didn't do a good enough job to get the pucks through. You have to try to shoot a little more. In the second there we tried a little bit too much instead of throwing pucks at the net, we tried to find one more pass but it didn't work.”

Shots by Justin Abdelkader and Zetterberg were Detroit’s lone scoring chances on the power play, both coming in the first period after Lars Eller was whistled for holding Abdelkader.

“Yeah, you just have to keep shooting, get pucks to the net,” Abdelkader said. “That’s what they were doing, and they were successful. We have to do the same, just get pucks to the net. We had some opportunity there, but just shoot and create scrums and second opportunities.”

Detroit’s power play finally cracked the Canadiens’ code, beating Tokarski when Sheahan swept a rebound in off of Danny DeKeyser’s shot from the point.

Trailing 3-0 early in the third period, the Wings tripled their previous PP shot output when defenseman Nathan Beaulieu went to the box for tripping Drew Miller. Single shots by Joakim Andersson, Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg were all turned aside by Tokarski, who made 28 saves Sunday. But the fourth shot – off the backside of Sheahan’s stick blade – found the mark for the Red Wings at 4:06 of the third.

The Wings had ample opportunity on the power play but finished 1 for 6 against the Canadiens.

“We should have competed and skated better than we did tonight,” Babcock said. “You don’t mind losing when you’re as good as you could be but I didn’t think we were at all tonight. I didn’t think we were near good enough. We didn’t have enough hands on deck.”

Sheahan attributed the Wings’ poor power-play performance to a lack of communication, saying, “We kind of weren’t on the same page.”

But the Wings definitely looked in sync on their third-period score.

“I think we just had our legs moving and a lot of loose pucks and I think we were doing a good job of getting to and getting it back to the point and getting shots on net,” said Sheahan, who also won 12 of 16 faceoffs Sunday. “DK just made a great shot there. It was a good all-around power play.”

It was just the fourth loss in regulation this season for the Red Wings, who trail the league-leading Canadiens (14-4-1) by eight points in the Atlantic Division standings.

Detroit now hits the road for the next three games, beginning Tuesday in Columbus. They’ll also visit Winnipeg and Toronto this week.

“It’s obviously not what we wanted,” Sheahan said of the Wings’ effort. “The big thing for us now is just to get back to the drawing board because we have a lot of games in the next few days.”

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