Red Wings suffer another home loss
DETROIT — The only difference in Saturday night’s Red Wings game from other recent home games is they did not lose in a shootout.
Instead, they let the Pittsburgh Penguins’ skill players dominate on special teams in a 4-1 rout.
The Wings fell to 15-10-9 overall and a ridiculous 5-7-6 at home.
On the road, the Wings are 10-3-3.
“We’ve been fine on the road, but the bottom line is we have to find a way to win in our house here,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Coming into (Saturday night’s) game we were 5-6-6 and we talked about looking after it and we didn’t do that.
“We get another opportunity (Sunday), but we have to work hard and compete better than we did.”
It would be a lot easier for the Wings to compete with the loaded Penguins (23-10-1) if they weren’t putting them on the power play, ranked first in the league.
The Penguins came in hitting on nearly 26 percent of their power-play chances and were 2-for-4 against the Wings.
Sidney Crosby scored on a rebound on the Penguins’ first power play and Evgeni Malkin scored on their second.
“Their power play, they’re fantastic, they have some great players,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “We needed to shut that down and we didn’t.”
The Wings’ power play has been pretty good this season. It was ranked 10th coming into the game but they failed to score on their five chances, including a five-minute power play at the end of the first period and beginning of the second.
“(If) the power play’s clicking, we’re winning this game,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Too much passing around. We’ve got to find a way to get the puck to the net. Obviously we’ll look at some video and see what we can do better and make sure the puck gets in there, take advantage of these chances.”
Seemingly, it wouldn’t be a Wings game without another injury.
That happened with 30 seconds left in the first period when Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engelland caught Justin Abdelkader in the jaw with his shoulder.
Abdelkader had to be helped off the ice and did not return to the game.
“He dumps it in and I try to finish my check,” Engelland said. “Obviously I’m not trying to hit him in the head or anything like that, but I think I catch his chin a little bit before his body. Hopefully he’s all right — no intentions there to hurt anyone.”
Engelland received a match penalty and will likely hear from NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan.
Abdelkader joins Henrik Zetterberg (back), Darren Helm (shoulder), Stephen Weiss (groin), Jimmy Howard (knee) and Danny DeKeyser on the sidelines until he passes the league protocol on concussions.
“It’s something the league will have to look at.,” Babcock said. “We have a lot of guys out and we didn’t have to lose Abby. He’s a heavy body for us, plays well for us and gives us pace. That hurt us for sure.”
The Penguins, who have seven players on injured reserve and had defenseman Kris Letang scratched due to an upper-body injury, aren’t going to feel bad for the Wings anytime soon.
“Their big guys were better than our big guys,” Babcock said. “Look at the overall thing, they skated us. We can talk about who’s not in our lineup, but they were without their top four D, they played yesterday, came into our building and they left happy. Not good enough.”
As the Wings approach the midway point of the season, they’re going to have to be better, especially at home.
They remain fifth in the Eastern Conference with 39 points but can’t afford to keep letting points slip away.