PREVIEW: Detroit Red Wings looking to break scoreless stretch vs. Nashville Predators

By Field Level Media
Mar 18, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) celebrates with defenseman Patrik Nemeth (22) after the game against the Dallas Stars at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Before the Detroit Red Wings can end their scoreless drought, they need to break down barriers.

They couldn’t penetrate the Nashville Predators’ defensive wall and got blanked 2-0 on Tuesday. They’ll meet again in Nashville on Thursday.

Detroit also got shut out by Dallas in its previous game. The Wings haven’t scored in 130 minutes and 55 seconds.

“We bogged ourselves down with poor puck execution and management,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They’re one of the best forechecking teams in the league statistically — we have them as the best — and we did a poor job of being quick out of our zone. We slowed ourselves down and didn’t get pucks behind them.”

Predators goaltender Juuse Saros made 31 saves for his first shutout of the season, but very few of them were difficult stops. Detroit’s best scoring chance came in a short-handed situation when Darren Helm had a breakaway. Saros made a glove save.

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“We have to find a way to get the puck by their defensemen and their wall there and put it in good spots, so the next guy can get it and play in the offensive zone,” Wings center Dylan Larkin said. “They clog it up. It’s the way they play, and we have to make adjustments.”

Detroit’s power-play unit, which has struggled most of the season, was particularly ineffective. The Wings essentially had a two-man advantage for the final 1:45 after they pulled their goaltender and Nashville was whistled for a penalty. They still couldn’t put pressure on Saros.

The Wings’ 11.5 power-play percentage is ranked 29th, tied with Anaheim and ahead of only Minnesota.

“Not good enough,” Blashill said. “Lack of execution, we had entries where guys didn’t nearly do a good enough job on what they’re supposed to do.”

Nashville has won four of its last five games. The Predators were coming off an eight-game road trip but instead of looking tired, they put on a defensive clinic.

“They were ready to go,” coach John Hynes said. “I thought the morning skate had a lot of energy and pace. I think they were excited to play and come back home in front of the fans. … Coming home off of a 16-day road trip, being ready to play, I thought we got off to a good start and played a pretty solid hockey game.”

In his last three starts, Saros has allowed only two goals.

“He’s just so solid, and you can see he’s really locked in,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “He’s making some unbelievable saves, and it just seems like he’s always in the right position, so it’s a lot of fun playing in front of him.”

Josi missed most of the road trip due to injury, but he sparked the Predators’ power play. He was originally credited with the first goal on a blast from the point in the first period. It was later determined that Mikael Granlund tipped the puck.

The defense made the early lead stand.

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“We have guys playing the right way,” Hynes said. “If you take our forward group, there’s relentless forecheck pressure, there’s back pressure, they’re staying on D, they recover pucks, they turn pucks over, like there’s no cheat. There’s just a real strong work ethic by this group of forwards right now, and they’re getting rewarded with offensive-zone time.”

–Field Level Media