DET-WSH 04:09:24

DETROIT -- With every game down the final stretch of the 2023-24 regular season feeling like a must-win for the Detroit Red Wings, each loss carries a heavy weight in the tight race for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

And in falling, 2-1, to the Washington Capitals at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday night, the Red Wings also dropped outside of the playoff picture with four games remaining.

“If this is a game in the first half of the season, we're talking about our process being excellent and to stick with it," Detroit head coach Derek Lalonde said. "It just gets magnified now because of the situation. This one certainly stings, but we still have some games. If we take care of business, I still think we're in this thing."

Goalie Alex Lyon made 21 saves for Detroit (38-32-8; 84 points), which moved into a tie in the standings with the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-30-12; 84 points). Both the Red Wings and Penguins, who play each other at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday, trail the Capitals (37-30-11; 85 points) by one point for the East’s second wild-card spot.

"We played pretty well," Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. "One of our best offensive-zone games in a long time. We bring that into Pittsburgh, it's going to be the same kind of game. Hopefully we learn that when we get our chances, we got to bear down and put them in the net."

Detroit outshot Washington 17-8 in a tense, scoreless first period.

Dylan Strome gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 17:47 of the second period. Martin Fehervary intercepted a clearance attempt below the offensive blue line and quickly found Strome, who scored from the right face-off circle.

Just 2:05 later, Alex Ovechkin scored on the rush with a wrister from the left face-off circle to make it 2-0 for Washington. It was the 30th goal of the season for Ovechkin, who set an NHL record for the most 30-goal campaigns with 18.

"We couldn't have been any better for the first 35 minutes," Lalonde said. "We had some turnovers. That's their M.O. They just get saves by an outstanding goaltender and they take advantage of opportunities if you give it to them. Unfortunately at the end of the second (period), we gave them some opportunities."

Andrew Copp exited at 14:06 of the third period and did not return after taking a stick to the face. Lalonde said postgame that Copp suffered a broken cheekbone.

"My understanding was if it's an injury, (the officials) can take a look at it," Lalonde said. "It's hindsight now because it's a broken cheekbone. That stings even more, but they said they didn't see it. What can you do?"

After pulling Lyon for the extra attacker late in the third period, the Red Wings snapped Capitals netminder Charlie Lindgren’s shutout bid with two seconds remaining when Patrick Kane scored to cut it to 2-1. David Perron and Lucas Raymond picked up the assists on Kane’s 20th goal of the season.

"Probably got to tip your hat to him," Lalonde said about Lindgren, who finished with 42 saves. "He was outstanding. Just stings. It is what it is."

As disappointing as Tuesday's loss might feel, Perron said the Red Wings can't get discouraged.

"I think it's important tomorrow that we reset, find a way to let go of this game, move forward and kind of re-energize for the next one," Perron said. "If we have to run the table or do whatever we got to do to get in, we got to find a way."

NEXT UP: Detroit will kick off a pivotal two-game road trip on Thursday night, first battling Pittsburgh at PPG Paints Arena.

Meijer Postgame Comments | WSH vs. DET | 04/09/24


Lalonde on generating enough shots

"For sure I'll have to look back, but it feels like we could have gotten some more traffic around (Lindgren). Maybe take his space a little more, but a lot of our Grade-As were coming off the rush or quick forecheck to the slot."

Larkin on if he felt Detroit got the scoring chances it wanted against Washington

"We had a lot of chances. We had chances they gave us too. We just didn't execute. I think that's twice now Lindgren's kind of had our number. We just didn't score. As forwards, guys who are relied on to put the puck in the net, it's one that we're going to be thinking about late tonight."

Perron on the margin of error

"It's slim at this time of the year. You can tell the games are tight. Not many power plays each way, just extremely disappointed. I thought we executed the game plan that we wanted to do going into the game. A lot of traffic at the net and shots on net. We've been talking about that a lot more recently."

Perron on if he felt the Red Wings did as much as they could against Lindgren

"Obviously you always want to do more if you don't score enough, but definitely. A lot of really good looks and high-zone plays. Larks and Razor were buzzing, just trying to get to the net for them. We had a lot of guys sacrificing, blocking shots and all that stuff. Extremely disappointing obviously."