DETROIT — The Red Wings have established a disturbing trend early in the season.
They’re allowing a lot of shots, too many goals and aren’t scoring enough to overcome it.
It happened again Saturday night against the struggling New York Rangers, a team without star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers — in the last game of a nine-game road trip to start the season because of work being done on Madison Square Garden — won a 3-2 overtime game at Joe Louis Arena.
Coach Mike Babcock split up Euro Twins Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in the hopes of getting some of the other players going.
The result was a 1-0 lead after the first on Drew Miller’s first goal of the season.
Then the Wings actually led 2-1 after a mostly disastrous second in which the Rangers carried the play, outshooting them 16-8.
Only Daniel Alfredsson’s power-play goal salvaged the period.
But the Rangers, who had every reason to be road-weary, tied the game early in the third and then didn’t allow the Wings a shot in overtime, winning on Derick Brassard’s breakaway goal with 12.9 seconds remaining.
“When you look at our group and you talk to me night after night there’s no consistency in our play,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t look like we’re wearing on the other team and at the end of the night.
“I look at the shot clock and it says 40 (shots on Jimmy Howard, who made 37 saves). We had 34, but 40 is way too many. Twenty-eight is way too many. We have a long way to go in that area. We have to sort this out.”
The Wings had 10 giveaways to the Rangers’ one.
“We turn over too many pucks and here they come,” Babcock said. “If we play in the offensive zone, then they’re not getting any shots.”
Zetterberg said the Rangers kept things very simple in the second period, which perhaps is something the Wings could learn to do.
As it is, they’ve lost four games in a row and scored five total goals in that stretch.
“It’s very disappointing, obviously,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “You play hockey to win games. Right now we’re not getting the job done.
“We have to get back to the basics and keep it a lot more simple out there.”
The Wings came into the game as one of just three teams in the Atlantic Division that has allowed more goals than they’ve scored. The other two were the seventh-place Florida Panthers and eighth-place Buffalo Sabres.
After Saturday, the Wings have scored 27 goals and allowed 33.
They have allowed just seven goals in the first period, 11 goals in the second and 13 in the third. They have been out-shot in the second, 138-130.
“We can’t give it away in the second period, especially in your own barn,” Babcock said. “You’ve got to outplay the other team and we didn’t do that.”
Teams often play a more simple game on the road. The Wings will have to do exactly that as they begin a four-game West Coast swing Wednesday in Vancouver.
If not, then they’ll be sliding down to meet the Panthers and Sabres at the bottom of the division.