Wings fall to Flyers without their dynamic duo

DETROIT – History was made Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena as the Red Wings peered into their future … a future without Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

At first, the future wasn’t looking too bad as the Wings raced to a 3-1 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers midway through the second period on two goals by rookie Tomas Tatar and a goal from Johan Franzen.

But the Flyers scored late in second and added four third period goals (two on the power play) to stun the Wings, 6-3.  It was Detroit’s seventh home loss in their last nine games played at the Joe.

Heading into the game, the Wings were on a four-game winning streak and it seemed that Detroit’s fortunes were beginning to turn around.

“Anytime you’re up 3-1, you want to win the game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Our penalty kill has been stellar all year long, but we gave up the shots and they scored the goals.  

“We had a chance on the power play ourselves and never got it done.

“In the end I thought we had things going pretty well for ourselves through two. The third period wasn’t good enough, they were better than us. They were better than us because they lit us up on the power play.’’

Detroit’s penalty killing unit was ranked second in the NHL, but the Flyers were a perfect 3-for-3 with the man advantage.

“Specialty teams was the one battle that we lost,” Detroit defenseman Nik Kronwall said.  “Five-on-five we were pretty solid defensively.   

“They got a big one there late in the second and in the third we couldn’t find a way to generate offense. We’re still a work in progress.  We just have to find a way to get better.”

Until Wednesday, it had been a little over six and a half years since the Red Wings played a hockey game without having at least one of their dynamic duo of Datsyuk and Zetterberg in the lineup.

When Babcock was asked if the Wings felt their loss in the second period, he said, “Obviously, but we don’t have them, so you (the media) can talk about it, no sense in us talking about it.

“We got to win games. That’s all there is to it. There’s an opportunity for every one of these guys right here to lead, to grab a bigger piece and do their part.”

“I thought Tatar was a factor in tonight’s game,” Babcock continued. “To me that means you get more. If you’re not a factor, you get less, it’s real simple. So grab your piece while you got a chance.

“These guys (Datsyuk and Zetterberg) are good players, they’re going to come back and play. But I guess the way I look at it, that was the challenge for us. Play with confidence – just play.’’

While Babcock thought the Wings lacked a bit of confidence playing without their two best players, Tatar thought the Wings had confidence, but quit playing.

“We had this game in our hands and we lost it in the third period,” Tatar said. “It wasn’t good, we stopped playing, we didn’t start the third period well and they just became the better team.”

It wasn’t a great night in net for Wings goalie Jimmy Howard who let in five goals (Flyers also scored into an empty net) on 33 shots. 

Babcock wouldn’t comment on Howard’s play, but he did say that Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson would start on Friday when the Wings play in New Jersey.

After Friday’s game, Detroit hosts the Florida Panthers on Saturday night at the Joe where they hope to reclaim a little home ice magic.