DETROIT – Life without Pavel Datsyuk hasn’t been that bad for the Detroit Red Wings to deal with.
Life without Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, their two leading scorers, so far is proven to be less than appealing.
The Wings squandered a two-goal lead midway through the second period, allowing five straight goals against in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“Anytime you’re up 3-1 you want to win the game,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
The Flyers were 3-for-3 with the man advantage, while Detroit was just 1-for-7.
“Our penalty kill has been stellar for us all year long, we gave up some shots and they scored the goals,” Babcock said. “We had a chance on the power play ourselves and never got it done. In the end we had things going pretty good for ourselves through two and the third period wasn’t good enough, they were better than us. They’re better than us because they lite us up on the power play.”
Philadelphia, which improved to 2-18-2 at Joe Louis Arena over its last 22 games, got goals from six goals from five different players – Steve Downie, Matt Read, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier (two) and Scott Hartnell – and a 32-save performance Steve Mason.
Tomas Tatar had a pair of goals for Detroit. Johan Franzen added the other goal and Jimmy Howard stopped 28 shots.
The loss snapped the Wings’ four-game winning streak.
All four wins in that stretch came without Datsyuk, who’s been sidelined while dealing with concussion-like symptoms.
Zetterberg missed his first game of the season and will be sidelined a minimum two weeks with a small herniated disc.
Wednesday was the first time Zetterberg and Datsyuk have been out of the lineup together since April 18, 2006, the final game of the regular season. Datsyuk sat with a knee injury and Zetterberg was held out to rest for the upcoming playoffs.
The Wings also lost that game, 6-3, to the Nashville Predators.
“We don’t have them,” Babcock said. “You can talk about it, no sense in us talking about it. We’ve 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 the bigger piece and to grab their part. I thought Tatar was a factor so to me that means you get more. If you’re not a factor you get less. It’s real simple. So grab your piece when you get a chance. Those guys are good players and they’re going to come back and play. I guess the way I look at it is just play with confidence and just play.”
Tatar has three goals and three assists over his last six games.
Trailing 3-2 to start the third period, the Flyers, who had not scored more than three goals in the last 19 consecutive games at Joe Louis Arena, exploded for three goals in less than five minutes, two of which came on the power play to turn the table on their host.
Giroux evened the game for the Flyers just five minutes into the third period with their second power play goal in as many chances.
Couturier put Philadelphia ahead 4-3 redirecting in a shot from the point by Downie.
Hartnell ended the onslaught before the halfway point of the third period with a top shelf goal that made the Flyers 3-for-3 with the man advantage.
“I think the specialty teams was a battle we lost,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I thought 5-on-5 we were pretty solid defensively, but we didn’t generate much offense. We were 1-for-6 on the power play and our PK that was working was not good at all tonight.
“A new game is a new game,” Kronwall continued. “You have to stick with it and keep working to get to the next level all the time. We didn’t do enough good things tonight to win the game and it starts with specialty teams. We need to do a way better job on the power play. We had a lot of power plays in the second and we could not take advantage of it and they found a way on their PP to take advantage of their opportunities. We just have to find a way to get better.”
The Wings worked a nice set play at center ice that led to the goal from Franzen.
Gustav Nyquist took a feed out of the Wings’ zone at center ice, waited before dropping it to Stephen Weiss, who in turn found a streaking Franzen at the blue line and he rifled a slap shot by Mason.
Tatar picked up his second goal of the game on a 5-on-3 power play to put the Wings up 3-1. The winger corralled a loose puck after Mikael Samuelsson had two whacks at it down low, dragged it back before finding an open lane to shoot through and beat a sparling Mason.
Read took advantage of Detroit’s inability to clear the zone and slid a puck just under Howard’s left pad and over the goal line late in the second to get the Flyers back to within a goal.
The Wings had a great chance to blow the game wide open in the second period with nearly eight minutes of power play time, but could only manage just one goal, which came on the 5-on-3.
Great work by Joakim Andersson on the boards down low to keep the puck moving so Drew Miller could scoop it up and feed to a wide open Tatar, who one-timed his shot past Mason just past the midway point of the opening period.
Downie tied things up with a power play goal less than four minutes later for the Flyers, using a wise screen by Brayden Schenn to beat Howard with a wrist shot along the ice after taking a pass in the slot from Sean Couturier.