DETROIT – Entering Wednesday’s exhibition game short-handed, the outcome for the Red Wings was somewhat predictable before the opening face-off.
The Pittsburgh Penguins – playing in their final game of the preseason – rolled into town with strength of their NHL lineup and manhandled the Wings who were without several of their stars.
Four different Penguins scored while handing the Red Wings a 5-1 loss at Joe Louis Arena.
“You have to have the puck more than we did if you’re going to have any fun out there I’ll tell you that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They came in here with an NHL looking team and we didn’t have one. We still have to play so many games we have to spread out lineup out and we have so many guys hurt. We weren’t deep enough; we didn’t have the puck enough so that’s what I took from it.”
Detroit was without forwards Daniel Alfredsson (groin) and Jordin Tootoo (bruised shoulder), and defensemen Jakub Kindl (hip flexor) and Jonathan Ericsson (groin), who are all listed as day to day with minor injuries. Captain Henrik Zetterberg, center Pavel Datsyuk and defenseman Niklas Kronwall also were given the night off as healthy scratches. The trio will play in their fourth and final preseason game Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at The Joe.
From the start, it was a frustrating night for the Wings, who chased the puck more than they possessed it.
“We had a tough time getting out of our zone clean tonight and getting through the neutral zone clean,” center Stephen Weiss said. “When you’re having a tough time with that you’re turning pucks over and they’re coming back at you, so it’s tough to generate offense a lot of times.”
Rookie goalie Petr Mrazek made his first career preseason start for the Red Wings, but he didn’t get much help from his defense, particularly in the first period when a pair of breakdowns led to the Penguins taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, including Jussi Jokinen’s power-play goal at 15:06. A little more than two-minutes later, Pascal Dupuis snapped a shot that beat Mrazek to the stick side.
“It wasn't an easy night,” said Mrazek, who made 32 saves. “That was my first (preseason) game I played whole game. I felt good before the game and during the game, but tough night for us.”
Through the first 20 minutes, the Red Wings were out-shot by a 12-5 margin. The Penguins finished the game with a 37-17 edge in shots.
The Penguins continued the assault on the Wings, building a 3-0 lead on a goal by Craig Adams in the opening minutes of the second period.
“Without the leadership of Kronwall, Datsyuk and Zetterberg it doesn’t appear we have much driving the bus either,” Babcock said, “but you can say that about lots of teams around the league.
“We missed E, Kronner and Kindl on the back. It was very apparent we couldn’t move the puck and they were all over us.”
Detroit got on the board when Drew Miller out-raced Marc-Andre Fleury to a loose puck in the high slot before chipping a wedge shot over the Penguins’ goalie and into the empty net at 12:49 of the second period. Forward Mikael Samuelsson earned his second assist of the preseason on the play that trimmed Detroit’s deficit to 3-1.
Another defensive lapse by the Wings led to the first of two goals by Chris Kunitz at 17:26 of the second period. The Pens’ veteran forward stole the puck from Wings rookie Xavier Ouellet in the neutral zone before skating in alone on the Wings’ net.
Kunitz capped the scoring with a power-play goal at 9:28 of the third period.
Justin Abdelkader was injured during a fight with Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo late in the game. According to the team, the Wings' forward needed stitches to close a laceration to his left hand. More should be known Thursday about Abdelkader's prognosis.
“I haven’t been back to the medical room to see how many casualties we have,” Babcock said. “It seems like every game we’re losing someone so we’ve got to get healthy.”
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