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Zetterberg, Blashill extol virtues of playing 'the right way'

by Dana Wakiji and Art Regner @Dwakiji and @ArthurJRegner /

DETROIT -- This time, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg couldn't will his team to a win.

In October when the Wings visited the Vegas Golden Knights, Zetterberg sparked the team to a 6-3 victory.

But at Little Caesars Arena Thursday night, the Wings had no answers for the Golden Knights, who battled their way to a 4-0 shutout win.

Detroit has lost five straight games and was shut out for just the second time this season (1-0 Oct. 24 at Buffalo).

The Wings fell to 26-30-11 overall and 13-14-8 at home while the Golden Knights improved to 43-19-5 overall and 19-12-3 on the road.

Alex Tuch (two goals) and Cody Eakin (two goals, one shorthanded) scored for Vegas and Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves in his 47th career shutout. It was Fleury's first shutout of the Wings in 19 games.

1. No cheating: One of the difficult lessons for young players to learn is that there are no shortcuts at the National Hockey League level. Offense must first be earned by playing the right way defensively, not by cheating in order to create some offense. With the upper-body injury to Frans Nielsen, the Wings are playing several players who are 24 years old or younger in Anthony Mantha, Martin Frk, Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou and Evgeny Svechnikov and it is not something that you learn overnight. It usually takes many times of doing it the right way and experiencing the success that comes with it to fully grasp the concept.

Quotable: "If you want to be a solid, good player in this league, if you want to win something, you have to learn to play the right way. Poke and hope might get you 25-30 goals, but you'll never win anything. You have to play defense first. If you do that, we have guys in here who have enough skill to create chances and get enough chances. You can't force and gamble all the time. You have to do it right and eventually you will get your chances. It's not often you get chances when you cheat. Sometimes you will get rewarded, but not in the long run." - Zetterberg

Quotable II: "Poke and hope hockey is called 50-50 hockey. It's a way to lose tons of games. To me it's a young mistake and we had enough young guys doing it for sure. You basically poke and hope that you get it and if you don't get it they're going to get a chance. That's not the way to win. No chance to win. You want to create chances without giving up chances. When you play poke and hope hockey, you're done. You got to win battles, you got to slow yourself down, you got to get your nose over the puck, you got to make sure you play from the defensive side of the puck. You got to win the puck battle and then you can play offense. Offense doesn't come free in this league." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill

Quotable III: "The guy that was great tonight, the guy that was unreal, was Zetterberg. And it's over and over and over. That's just the reality of it. That is what elite players do every night. And it's a hard league. The difference between this league and other leagues is in other leagues you're more talented than your opponents so you can get away with not playing at 100 percent. The best players in this league have to be 100 percent every night in terms of their competitiveness, their focus, their competition level. It's a lesson our young guys have to learn. It's not an easy lesson. The other lesson our young guys have to learn is that when it starts to go the wrong way, the answer isn't to cheat, the answer is to actually be better defensively. You can't cheat your way to offense. You have to play from the right side of the puck, create turnovers and then attack. That's what the league is. Sometimes when you're a young player you want to make a difference and there's probably times where you, I don't know if try too hard is the right word because I didn't see anybody trying too hard. You cheat to hope that the puck is going to bounce your way. You can't rely on bounces." - Blashill

2. Tomas Tatar : With a little more than seven minutes left in the first period, the Red Wings paid tribute to the former Red Wings forward - who was traded to the Golden Knights on February 26 -- with a video montage of Tatar's career, including being drafted by the Wings, winning the Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins and his six-plus seasons in Detroit. As the tribute began, the fans at Little Caesars Arena were caught off guard, but once they realize that Tatar was being honored, the crowd rose to its feet and gave Tatar a rousing ovation. Players from both benches tapped their sticks against the boards as Tatar stood up on the Vegas bench and waved to the fans. Once the montage ended, the scoreboard focused on Tatar, who gave a sigh and appeared to be choked up. Throughout his tenure in Detroit, Tatar played in 407 games, scoring 115 goals, with 21 game winners among his 222 career points. He was plus-8 and averaged 15:27 of ice time per game. In Thursday's 4-0 Golden Knights victory, Tatar was held off the scoresheet. He was even, had three shots on goal, took a minor penalty and logged 15:46 of ice time.

Quotable: "After all these years here, the fans were really great to me, it's hard to complain. I loved it here, I have all the great memories, I am thankful for all that Detroit has done for me. It was a really nice tribute for me, but at the same time, I wanted to focus on the game. I know I have to step up and be better for this team than I have been so far, but it's not easy. It's a little bit different style of game. I have to get more used to it and feel more comfy. Detroit taught me a lot hockey-wise. They taught me how to be a good person and hockey player. Like I said, I have my memories, Detroit will always be nice." - Tatar

Quotable II: "He's played real well so far. I think he's been, what, three or four (now five) games with us and he's played on all different lines. We've had some injuries and we've put him in different spots. It'll be nice when we get our lineup back together and we can put him where we want to put him. He's a power play guy, he's going to score goals for us and that's what we like about him. He's got lots of energy and plays well. He's good for our dressing room. We've got a lot of guys like that so he fits into our mix real good. Like I said, he's a character guy, guys really like him and he's pretty loud out there, so it's good." - Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant   

3. Evgeny Svechnikov: Svechnikov played in two games last season, both against the Ottawa Senators. The first was a 5-4 shootout home win in which Svechnikov got the shootout winner, the second was a 2-0 shutout for the Senators in Ottawa in the second game of a back-to-back. Svechnikov started this game with Andreas Athanasiou as his center and Abdelkader on the other wing but also played with other players throughout the game. Svechnikov finished with 14 shifts for 9:09, recording one shot, taking a holding penalty and was minus-2. Only Luke Witkowski at 8:58 had less ice time.

Quotable: "Definitely I think that's one of my best things I can do, win battles and hang onto the puck and take it to the net but I didn't have much chance to do that tonight so I'm going to focus on that a lot like those guys said. I will try to do my best." - Svechnikov

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