ST. PAUL -- They're working hard, they're starting on time and even getting the lead but the Detroit Red Wings are struggling to find scoring and wins.
After taking a 1-0 lead, the Wings couldn't add on and fell to the Minnesota Wild, 4-1, at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday.
They have lost three in a row, all on the road.
The Wings fell to 26-29-10 overall and 13-16-2 on the road while the Wild improved to 37-22-7 overall and 23-5-6 at home.
Justin Abdelkader scored for Detroit while Eric Staal, Zach Parise and Jason Zucker (two) scored for Minnesota.
Frans Nielsen played in his 750th career game.
1. Lack of offense: When your team is in a bit of a scoring slump, it is tough to outscore your mistakes and puts extra pressure on your defense and goaltending. The Wings have scored just 170 goals this season. All of the top teams in the league have at least 200. On some nights, they get plenty of chances and haven't found a way to convert more than once. The Wings changed the lines, putting a net-front guy on each line, but the results remained the same.
Quotable: "We talked going into the Winnipeg game, I didn't think we had enough net presence going into it. I thought our net presence was better. We're getting some chances, we got to keep grinding. I don't have a better answer than that. If I did, we'd apply it. Certainly, two areas coming out of the All-Star break that are real important is our D being more involved and shooting the puck more. Our shot total didn't end up unreal tonight but I think we outshot them. We just got to stay on it and make sure we stay on with net presence." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
Quotable II: "I thought we went into the hard areas today and tried to score dirty goals. There's a few pucks there, lying right there. I think Abby had one, Witter (Luke Witkowski) had one that's right on the goal line. Maybe get more pucks through. They're blocking a lot of shots when we get opportunity. It's natural to squeeze your stick a little bit when you're not feeling it." - Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg
Quotable III: "We need to get those easy ones. I think again, we keep saying it, but we gotta get in there and make it hard on the other team's goalies. Just like their third goal today. He gets it on the wall and he puts it on net but he knows he has guys going there. We still gotta do a better job of that." - Nielsen
2. Jimmy Howard: The Wild did not have a lot of shots in the first period but they had more than a few quality chances. The first came at 6:57 when Mikael Granlund found Eric Staal for a quick breakaway, which Howard stopped. Howard was also equal to the challenge when Jason Zucker had a breakaway at 13:44. Howard stopped Staal again at 19:21 during a Wild power play. Things turned in the second with the Wild on the power play as Jared Spurgeon fired a shot at the net that appeared to hit both Jonathan Ericsson and Eric Staal before deflecting into the net. Staal was credited with his 34th goal of the season. Then at 10:15 of the second, the Wild had an odd-man rush which Zach Parise finished with his fifth goal of the season. In the third, Jason Zucker redirected a shot when going to the net and then cashed in with the net empty. Howard finished with 23 saves. Howard played in his 450th career game.
Quotable: "In the last two games we've gotten off to good start and in the second period sort of tailed off a little bit. We had a lot of really good looks tonight, we just couldn't convert." - Howard
Quotable II: "I think he's been great. He had some big saves out there today that kept us up one in the first and kept us only down one and in the game. You can't blame him for anything. Almost every night he gives us a chance." - Nielsen
Quotable III: "He'd want that third one back for sure. Jimmy's been real good for us. In the end, sometimes that happens. The goaltending position, you're going to have nights where sometimes it goes in, and it went in on him." - Blashill
3. Justin Abdelkader: The Wild came into the game outscoring opponents 60-45 in the first period. But at 3:58 of the first, Justin Abdelkader drove into the slot and buried a rebound of Jonathan Ericsson's shot for his 11th goal of the season. Dylan Larkin picked up the second assist, his team-leading 39th. Ericsson returned after missing one game due to illness. It is Abdelkader's first career goal in 21 games against Minnesota. Abdelkader also has four more goals in 58 games than he had in 64 last season.
Quotable: "That's how it goes. That's the game of hockey. We gotta continue to go to work each and every day. Games are running, and at the same time we're going out and we're gonna have to play hard each and every game. It's a league where you've got to continue to prove yourself each and every game, no matter where you're at in the standings or what's happening ahead of you. We gotta continue to do the right thing and play the right way. I have no doubt in the group in here. We've shown a lot of fight this season. We can't get down. You gotta learn from your games and your experiences and try to build off those and get better. I think we'll continue to do that and hopefully goals will start going in for us." - Abdelkader