Stale six-pack: Canadiens extend Red Wings’ skid
Detroit — Many Red Wings players, and coach Jeff Blashill, were talking about the importance of these two games against Montreal. A divisional opponent, tight standings, about how important the game are even this early in the regular season.
If it’s the case, then the Red Wings hurt themselves — and are continuing to damage their spot in the standings on this homestand — Thursday night with a 6-3 loss to the Canadiens at Little Caesars Arena.
The Red Wings (10-11-5, 25 points) saw their winless streak reach six games (0-3-3), as well as dropping beneath Montreal in the Atlantic Division standings into fifth place.
And the lack of success at LCA continues to be a confounding riddle for the Red Wings. Remember all the talk preceding this homestand, in which the Red Wings play 13 of 15 games at LCA? How it was make-or-break, a defining point of their season? This isn’t going good. They’re 2-3-4 during this stretch, 2-3-3 at LCA.
So much for the advantages of playing on home ice. They’re 4-5-4 thus far this season.
BOX SCORE: Canadiens 3, Red Wings 1
“We’re trying to create that momentum and roll here in our building,” defenseman Mike Green said earlier in the week. “If we can kind of get some wins here and create some energy, we can kind of roll with it.
“We knew going into this home stretch we’re playing some good teams. We really want to focus on getting points here at home and we’ve kind of had a little setback here.
“But we have time to get those final points (during this homestand).”
Those points didn’t come Thursday.
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In what’s sure to be a close playoff race, Tampa and Toronto have created some separation atop the Atlantic Division, while Boston and Montreal are beginning to gather steam upward in the standings.
The Red Wings can’t afford a prolonged losing streak to fall deep in the standings.
“I look at game one to game 82 equal and they’re all to me playoff games,” Blashill said. “We’ve talked about this a lot, how tight this league is. Nobody has enough skill, or skill level, above everybody else.
“Every game is so close and certainly two games against a division opponent when you’re fighting for a spot, are going to be critical.”
The Canadiens scored three times in the second period to erase a 2-1 Red Wings lead, and added insurance in the third, to grind out a win.
Anthony Mantha (12th), Tomas Tatar (eighth, on the power play) and Frans Nielsen (seventh, power play) had Red Wings goals. Goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 19 shots.
Brendan Gallagher (11th and 12th, one on the power play), Charles Hudon (third), Andrew Shaw (sixth), Alex Galchenyuk (sixth) and Max Pacioretty (eighth, power play) had Montreal goals.
The Canadiens (12-12-3, 27 points) won their fourth consecutive game, all since goaltender Carey Price (28 saves) has returned from injury and back to his All-World level after a poor start to his season.
The Red Wings appeared to be in good shape in this game, then a flurry of Montreal offense — similar to Tuesday’s loss against Los Angeles — completely changed the complexion of the game. Hudon tied it at 2 at 4:46 of the second period, pouncing on a loose puck to the side after Gallagher drove to the net and the Red Wings converged, leaving a loose puck for Hudon to put past Howard.
Shaw made it 3-2 Montreal at 5:29 after the Red Wings turned the puck over, and Jacob de la Rose fed Shaw on a partial rush. Galchenyuk extended the lead to 4-2 at 17:49, and may have sealed the outcome for all intent and purposes, putting back his own rebound during a Canadiens scramble in front of Howard