Wings aim to lose strong vs. Preds

Better late than never? Don’t try convincing the Detroit Red Wings of that.

The Wings, who play host to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, have lately developed a nasty habit of squandering third-period leads and losing late in regulation time.

Sunday, for the second time in eight games, the Wings dropped a game in the dying seconds of regulation time when Auston Matthews scored with 30.2 seconds left in the third period to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 3-2 victory. On Feb. 3, Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau netted the game winner with 7.7 seconds to play in regulation as the Panthers beat the Wings 3-2.

“I thought we had tons of chances to win the hockey game but in the end they made one more play than us,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill of the loss to Toronto, which came after Wings center Dylan Larkin iced the puck, leading to a faceoff in the Detroit zone with 37.8 seconds left in the period.

“I think we can talk to each other and know that we got a little more time there and make a little more poised play,” Blashill said. “We didn’t and then they made a play on the faceoff.”

Detroit (24-25-9) also blew a three-goal lead in the third period and lost 7-6 in overtime to the New York Islanders on Feb. 9. As well, they coughed up a 4-1 third-period lead Feb. 11 at Washington. Detroit rallied to win that one 5-4, but there’s still been a trend recently of letting games get away in the final frame.

“It’s happened a couple more times than we would have liked to, obviously,” Detroit right-winger Gustav Nyquist said. “It’s something we’ve got to look at.”

It didn’t happen Saturday in Nashville, as the Wings grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead and rolled to a solid 3-1 victory.

“I thought we did a good job of holding the lead,” Nyquist said. “We’re up 2-0 and we seal the deal with them pulling the goalie.”

That defeat marked the first time since Dec. 19-21 that the Predators lost consecutive games in regulation time.

“I give Detroit credit, they played hard, they checked hard, they defended hard, they blocked a lot of shots and were able to walk out with the two points,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette told NHL.com.

The Wings have owned the Predators of late, winning seven in a row from Nashville, including the last three in Detroit, although this will be the first visit by the Preds to new Little Caesars Arena.

“That’s a fast team over there,” Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said after Saturday’s loss to the Wings. “They worked just as hard, and they earned that win.”

Nashville (35-14-9) got back on the winning track Monday, whipping the Ottawa Senators 5-2 to move into a first-place tie in the Central Division with the Winnipeg Jets.

Detroit is 2-5-1 in its last eight home games. Mike Green, who leads all Detroit defensemen with 29 points and who is the subject on trade speculation as the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline fast approaches, has missed the last two games due to an upper-body injury.

The moves began for the Wings on Monday, as they dealt goaltender Petr Mrazek to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2019 draft. The Wings will also retain half of what remains to be paid out on Mrazek’s $4.15 million salary.