By @StefanKubus –
DETROIT – The first shot of the game made all the difference Wednesday night in Detroit.
St. Louis rookie forward Ivan Barbashev opened the scoring at 2:06, as he curled at the left circle untouched and beat Red Wings netminder Petr Mrazek with a low wrister on the short side. That was all the Blues needed, as they ultimately took a 2-0 decision at Joe Louis Arena, handing Detroit its fifth-straight loss.
“It’s hard to give up that first one, but with that said, we’ve been in that spot, and I think we’ve played very well from that spot,” Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said of being down early. “You’ve got to be able to deal with it if it happens.”
Detroit fell to 22-25-10 with the loss. The Red Wings mounted a push late in the third period, but as Muskegon native Justin Abdelkader said, it was a case of “too little, too late.”
“It’s a tight game out there, it’s tough,” Abdelkader said. “We’re just having trouble giving up those first goals right away. Sometimes that can set you back a little bit, but they’re a team where a lot of times there’s not much going on out there. It’s a pretty tight game, and I thought that was the case for the most part tonight, but we didn’t make it hard enough on their goalie. At the end there, we started pushing and had some chances, but too little, too late.”
In that final frame, still down 1-0, the Wings came out buzzing in the Blues’ zone, continually pressing for the tying goal, but the Blues managed to stave off the attack.
Dylan Larkin was part of that attack, as he was moved up to play with Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar on the Wings’ top line.
“I switched Mantha and Larks because I thought Larks had a little more compete in him tonight,” Blashill said. “I thought Larks had good jump in the third, and that was one of his best periods in a while. Now I also would say this: I see him doing tons of good stuff, I see him doing the types of things it takes for long-term success that you guys won’t see. It won’t show up on the scoresheet, but he’s stopping on pucks, he’s playing from the defensive side of the puck. Those types of things are critical in order to be a real good player in the league, and I think he’s taking real steps forward.”
The Wings pulled Mrazek for the extra attacker with 1:43 remaining as they continued to mount offense in the St. Louis zone, but could not record the equalizer.
Jaden Schwartz added an empty-net goal with just ten seconds to play, sealing the 2-0 win for St. Louis.
The Wings host Washington on Saturday afternoon before heading to Pittsburgh for a Sunday-afternoon battle.