DETROIT – It wasn’t their worst performance at home this season. Actually, all four Red Wings’ lines played better than admirably, registering a season-high 43 shots on goal and scoring twice on the power play Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“Sometimes you win games when you’re playing really well that you should probably,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought this was a game we could have won easy tonight. To me, that’s going in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep positive about what’s going on and keep plugging.”
But in the end, the Wings dropped their 10th straight home game in extra time – 3-2 in overtime to the visiting Winnipeg Jets – which is the NHL’s longest streak since 1986-87. Detroit's last win in overtime or shootout was a 2-1 SO victory over Florida on Apr. 1, 2012.
The Red Wings are also on a six-game home losing skid, something that hasn’t happened in Detroit in nearly 16 years.
“During the season you’re going to have you ups and downs and right now we’re in a bit of a slump,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall admitted. “Tonight everyone really worked hard, we kept going after them, going after them. It didn’t matter if we were down by a goal we kept going after them.”
The Red Wings last lost six straight at home during the 1996-97 season. They went 0-4-2-0, which was followed by another six-game dry spell (0-3-2-1) that crossed into Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series with St. Louis. The Wings finished with a 20-12-8-1 (W-L-T-OTL) regular-season record that season at Joe Louis Arena, but turned things around with a 9-1 home mark en route to securing the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title in 42 years.
The silver lining for the Wings is that Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg continue to shine in spite of the slump. Datsyuk scored two power-play goals for the first time in his regular-season career, keeping the Wings in the game.
“He’s a great player, obviously, one of the best players in the world, so good without the puck,” Babcock said of Datsyuk, who tied Nicklas Lidstrom for 10th all-time in Detroit history for goals scored (264). “Without him and Z, right now we count on those guys totally. We need more balanced scoring.”
The power play definitely needed to boost against the Jets. Entering Tuesday’s game, the Red Wings had the 21st ranked power play, which was 1-for-19 in the previous 19-plus periods.
Detroit was 2-for-4 for on the power play Tuesday.
“Yeah, we scored two but we didn’t score in a few games,” said Datsyuk, referring to the power play. “It’s good for us to score, but we just needed to keep rolling in this one. It looks like we played pretty well.”
Datsyuk and Zetterberg have compiled 16 points, including eight goals, in the last six games. Datsyuk’s goals – at 14:44 of the first period and 13:11 of the third – evened the scoring both times for the Wings.
While the Wings have been too depending lately on the top-line scoring, Babcock is certain that secondary production from guys like Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson and Darren Helm is right around the corner. Franzen and Alfredsson assisted on the third-period goal.
“The big thing for us is we need more scoring,” Babcock said. “I’m confident with Mule and Alfie now and even the way Helmer’s playing that he’s coming. That gives us a better second group, but we’re going to need more balanced scoring and we got to keep working at it.”
The Red Wings are now 1-for-6 in two shootout losses this season, with the first loss coming to San Jose on Oct. 21. Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi are both 0-for-2. Alfredsson missed his first attempt against the Sharks, but was scored Detroit's lone shootout goal against Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
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