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Mar 18, 2024 5:48 pm

Red Wings struggling for wins with Blue Jackets coming to town

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The Detroit Red Wings snapped a seven-game losing streak over the weekend but it still ended on a sour note.

After recording a much-needed 4-1 home win over Buffalo on Saturday, the Red Wings were dealt a 6-3 loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Detroit (34-28-6, 74 points) returns home to face the Metropolitan Division’s last-place team, the Columbus Blue Jackets (23-34-11, 57) on Tuesday night.

Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde felt his team took too many penalties. While none of Pittsburgh’s three first-period goals officially came on a power play, Reilly Smith scored the game’s first goal one second after the Red Wings’ second penalty expired.

Lars Eller scored with 21 seconds left in the second on a power play after the Red Wings had trimmed the Penguins’ lead to 4-2.

“We could have managed our game much better,” Lalonde said Sunday. “That first period got away from us because we hand-delivered those four minutes on the power play. And we just didn’t have legs tonight and it showed. I think we had some moments where we had some jump, some effort but not consistent enough on the road against a team like that.”

PIttsburgh had 38 shots on goal, 10 more than Detroit. The Red Wings have allowed four or more goals in all eight losses over this stretch.

“Defensively, we’ve got to be smarter in our zone, we’ve got to compete in our zone,” Lalonde said. “We’ve got to spend less time in our zone. It starts with some puck play, some D-zone coverage. This is a group that can do some good things in the O-zone. We’ve got to get that there, and we can do that by getting pucks north, getting in quick and playing off the forecheck.”

The Red Wings are still awaiting the return of team captain and first-line center Dylan Larkin, who has missed the last seven games with a lower-body injury.

Detroit will be looking to sweep the three-game season series against the Blue Jackets. The Red Wings recorded 4-0 and 5-4 wins over Columbus during the first two months of the season.

The Blue Jackets have lost four of their last five games. After defeating San Jose 4-2 at home on Saturday, they were thumped 6-1 by Winnipeg on Sunday.

The Jets took command with four second-period goals.

“The few things that we need to do well in order to be successful are we need to compete and skate,” Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent said. “The second period, we just didn’t push the pace like we usually do. And when you face a team like the Jets, it’s a recipe for disaster. I think Winnipeg makes the other teams look bad in so many ways. They’re heavy, they’re strong, they have skills. Then you face (goaltender Connor) Hellebuyck on top of that.”

Winnipeg’s goal total was the most Columbus had allowed since a 6-3 loss at Ottawa on Feb. 13.

“They are really good and this is why they’re a playoff team,” Columbus goaltender Elvis Merzlikins said. “They find those empty pockets, and when they get that chance, they just punish you. It was a tough one.”

The game on Tuesday marks the beginning of a five-game road trip for the Blue Jackets.

–Field Level Media

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