Goalie Alex Nedeljkovic was on the bench when his teammates tried to clean up their mess, only to come up with their worst wreckage of the season.
The Detroit Red Wings gave up four goals in the first period Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena, and then gave up another four in the third period, to fall to Original Six rival Chicago Blackhawks, 8-5.
The second line had a good second period, and rookie Moritz Seider and captain Dylan Larkin scored in the third to pull the Wings within a goal with 4:33 to play. Larkin scored his 20th goal of the season a period after Tyler Bertuzzi reached that milestone.
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A terrible pass by Nick Leddy undermined the Wings’ chances at a comeback: Brandon Hagel intercepted the puck and scored on third-stringer Calvin Pickard, who gave up three goals on 21 shots. The eight goals was a season-high against the Wings (18-19-6).
Former Blackhawk Pius Suter had a rare disciplinary problem, landing in the penalty box three times. Dylan Strome completed a hat trick during Suter’s third offense, in the third period, when Seth Jones‘ shot deflected in off Strome.
The Blackhawks feasted in the first period: Strome scored twice and had an assist, Patrick Kane had two assists, and Sam Lafferty scored with 31.5 seconds left to leave an bad taste for the Wings as they headed off for intermission. There wasn’t much Nedeljkovic could do on the first, second and fourth goals but he has played so much over the past few weeks that a spell on the bench wasn’t a bad idea.
Pickard made his first appearance of the season to start the second period. It was a much more fun one for the Wings: Robby Fabbri scored at 5:45, Bertuzzi a minute later, and Suter capped the period with his 10th goal of the season. The three former Guelph Storm teammates became linemates five games ago, giving the Wings a second scoring line.
Nedeljkovic made his seventh consecutive start. Thomas Greiss has been in COVID-19 protocol since Jan. 17, and has not practiced in 10 days. The expectation is he will be out of protocol Thursday, which, at best, would give him one practice and one morning skate ahead of the weekend matchups in Pittsburgh (on Friday) and at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs (on Saturday). Greiss’ last game was a 24-save performance Jan. 9 at Anaheim.
Alex DeBrincat (Farmington Hills) brought his career total against the Wings to 23 points in 16 games — he has at least one point in 12 of them — when he set up Strome on a power play. DeBrincat fired a shot from the left circle that Strome redirected for a 2-0 lead at 12:40 of the second period. Dominik Kubalik put the Blackhawks on the scoreboard at 10:24 when the puck squirted loose at the net and he was in prime position for the tap-in. DeBrincat netted his own goal at 8:55 of the second period off a give-and-go, taking advantage of Pickard sliding out of his net to put Chicago up, 6-3. DeBrincat then scored into an empty net with 1:43 to play.
Bertuzzi recorded his third 20-goal season, reaching the milestone in his 35th game. (Bertuzzi was limited to nine games last season because of a back injury; he still managed five goals in that span.) Bertuzzi rushed into Chicago’s zone on a give-and-go with Filip Hronek and cut to the net to score at 6:41. Bertuzzi had a hand in the third goal, as he screened Marc-Andre Fleury when Suter took the shot from the slot through traffic that put the Wings within a goal with 13 seconds to play in the second period. Bertuzzi added an assist when he helped set up Seider’s goal.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings torched in 1st, 3rd in 8-5 loss to Blackhawks
Source: Yahoo Sports