Dylan Larkin talks about an ugly Red Wings' loss and his third period fight The Detroit News
Detroit — The Red Wings have played some ugly games against the Montreal Canadiens in recent years.
Two terrible losses in Montreal’s Bell Centre certainly stand out in the last two seasons, total embarrassments that left Wings fans angry and disillusioned.
Add Tuesday’s game to list of embarrassments against Montreal — and this one was at Little Caesars Arena, which stings even more.
The Canadiens scored five times in the second period — they scored fairly easy goals most of the evening — leading to an 8-1 victory.
It was Montreal’s eighth consecutive victory over the Wings, and this counts as one of the easier ones. The Wings haven’t beaten Montreal since March 21, 2017, a 3-2 overtime victory.
A little more than 24 hours after the trade deadline, fans might be wondering why more of these Wings weren't shipped out of town after this effort.
“From the drop of the puck, we weren’t even close,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “That was absolutely embarrassing. You want to be able to look at yourself in the mirror after the game and that was absolutely embarrassing. Our fans deserve a lot more than that.
“We all need to be so much better. That can’t be who we want to be.”
The Wings played with little passion — there was basically none until Dylan Larkin fought late in the third period, the frustration mounting for him — and little or no urgency, despite facing a team in Montreal that had lost the night before in New Jersey and had embarrassed the Wings several times in recent years.
All the goals were at even strength, several were breakaways, there were countless defensive breakdowns — the Wings were a collective minus-35 in the plus-minus column, which isn’t easy to do.
“There’s no explanation,” Larkin said. “It’s embarrassing. Not explanation at all. We’ve been saying it for too long, too many times, coming in here in front of you guys and the fans who spend time and pay money to watch us play. We have to have pride, believe in each other and believe in what we’re doing and that was doing nothing. That was embarrassing for our fans and they deserve better, the city of Detroit deserves better.”
The Wings (23-32-9) have gone winless in six games, and have won only twice in the last 11 (2-7-2).
But none of those losses have been as discouraging as this one.
And considering the opportunity currently for many players on this roster — both young and old — a defeat like this one definitely is an eye-opener.
Coach Jeff Blashill absolved rookie Filip Zadina, who had three shots and was minus-1 in 14:09 of ice time — “I actually thought he played pretty good,” Blashill said — but put a glaring eye squarely on many other Wings.
“There’s a whole bunch of guys, whether they’re young or old, guys are always wanting a little bit more which I can understand — well, there you go,” Blashill said. “If that’s the result, then you’re not making us better. You’re ultimately, you are what you do, and the collection, the group of us, that was the result. So if that’s going to continue to be the result, then the collection of us aren’t good enough and something has to change.”
Anthony Mantha scored the Wings goal, his 16th, at 18:46 of the second period, momentarily stopping an onslaught which had given the Canadiens a 5-0 lead.
But just 61 seconds later, Andrew Shaw scored his second of the night for the Canadiens as the Wings team defense collapsed again.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard returned to the lineup after missing two games because of illness. But Howard didn’t make it to the third period, replaced after allowing six goals on 22 shots.
Niklas Kronwall talks about an embarrassing Red Wings' effort The Detroit News
It was the third consecutive start that Howard has been replaced by Jonathan Bernier, although arguably, it’s been the Wings’ team defense that has derailed the goalies.
“Those guys work so hard for us every day and it’s disappointing we give them that effort in front of them,” Larkin said.
Shaw scored three goals, Max Domi scored two, Brendan Gallagher added his 27th goal and former Wing Tomas Tatar his 22nd, and Joel Armia added the other goal for the Canadiens (34-23-7).
Montreal goaltender Carey Price stopped 28 shots for the victory, barely breaking a sweat.
“You can hold your head high if you work and compete your butt off in this town,” Blashill said. “It has a lot of room for blue-collar work ethic. (But) when you give up and don’t finish the game the way we did, it is embarrassing.”