Wings bested by Blue Jackets 3-0

BY foxsports • February 4, 2011

Feb. 4, 2011

DETROIT -- The Red Wings came into Friday night's game wanting to cut down on their goals-against.

Consider that mission accomplished.

However, even if you only allow two goals (not counting an empty-netter), you have to score at the other end to win. That mission failed for the Wings against the division rival Columbus Blue Jackets, who earned a 3-0 shutout.

The Wings came into the game with the league's fifth best power play and the Blue Jackets came in with the league's 25th ranked penalty kill. So you'd figure that once they got 1:06 of a 5-on-3 late in the second period, it would be game on.

Not so much.

"I thought their penalty kill played well but we didn't execute on the power play," captain Nick Lidstrom said. "We had the 5-on-3, I think it was just over a minute, and we didn't execute on it. We had maybe one or two shots.

"It comes down to executing on the 5-on-3 and we didn't do that."

The Wings finished 0-for-5 on the power play.

It would have helped if they had two of their best guys on the power play, Pavel Datsyuk and the goaltenders' best friend, Tomas Holmstrom. Both remain out with broken hands.

Datsyuk had hoped to play right after the All-Star break but his hand hasn't felt good enough to go.

"I want to play, believe me," Datsyuk told the Detroit News after the morning skate. "But I can't play (Friday). Just the hand. I'm in OK shape. (The hand is) OK but not enough."

Holmstrom, who has made a living standing in front of the net blocking goaltenders' views, missed his seventh straight game and his teammates missed him.

Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason had a pretty easy night seeing shots as they came in so while he made 34 saves, they weren't terribly challenging ones.

"The first two periods, we didn't take enough shots to get pressure on him," Lidstrom said. "I thought the shots we took, he saw, he came out and he was square for the shots.

"There's no one really in front of him trying to screen, so he made easy saves. I thought we did get more pressure in the third, but it wasn't enough for us."

Johan Franzen, who had five goals Wednesday night in Ottawa, couldn't recapture that magic. He echoed what Lidstrom said about Mason.

"Mason played good," Franzen said. "We took a lot of shots, but yeah, he came out pretty far. We didn't have anyone in front of him, so he could come out a long way.

"Then he's really big, and it's hard to score on him. We didn't have any luck with the rebounds, and he played a good game. Their whole team played a good game defensively."

Mason is 6-4, 211 pounds, a big guy, but one who could have used a Holmstrom posterior in front of him.

"He looked big and he looked comfortable," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "You saw on the 5-on-3. He was out on the blue paint and he looked big."

Of course, that's what makes Holmstrom so special. He's one of the few guys in the league who is willing to stand there in front of the goaltender, especially on power plays, and take the abuse from both the goalies and the defensemen who try to move him out of there.

"It's huge, 5-on-3s, 5-on-4s, all of them were squandered," coach Mike Babcock said. "But substance at the net is when you've got traffic and you shoot it and you get a second chance, and we didn't have enough of that all night long.

"You don't score by getting style points through the neutral zone. You score by going hard at people's nets and getting people to the net and working hard for second opportunities, and we didn't do enough of that."

There is a small chance that Datsyuk will be ready to go Saturday night in Nashville but Monday night at home against the New York Rangers seems to be a more likely goal.

As for Holmstrom, he will definitely be out Saturday, meaning the Wings will have to find a way to make the Predators' goalie feel a little less comfortable without him. Their goaltenders are even bigger, though, with Pekka Rinne at 6-5, 207, and Anders Lindback at 6-6, 205.

Danny Cleary played in just his second game since returning from a broken ankle, which forced him to miss 14 games. At times he's been able to plant himself in front of the net -- albeit not quite like Holmstrom -- and bother the goalie.

The Wings are still second in the Western Conference, three points ahead of the Dallas Stars, but they can't afford any more nights like Friday.

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