Jake Guentzel raised his stick in anger but didn’t finish the act of destruction. In the third period, Guentzel got lost in the defensive zone, again, and Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm one-timed a puck past Penguins goalie Matt Murray. It was the Red Wings fourth goal and Helm’s third point of the game.
The Red Wings, who had lost 14 of their last 15 games, took advantage of continued defensive confusion and beat the disinterested Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 at Little Caesars Arena Tuesday night.
Things started well for the Penguins.
On the first shift of the game, Guentzel intercepted a drop pass in the defensive zone and created a two on one rush. Sidney Crosby (27) snapped a one-timer past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. That was the lonely highlight. The Penguins didn’t score again for 56 minutes.
Tuesday, another weaker team exploited the Penguins wingers aversion to defense and the team played below their competition. Why?
“I don’t have an answer for you,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.
“Lack of urgency. Period.” said Penguins defenseman Kris Letang. “There was no response from our team. And that’s a problem.”
Late in the first period, the Red Wings tied the game with help from the Penguins defensive zone confusion. Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, one of the last holdovers from the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Final battles with the Penguins, was uncovered in the slot.
Kronwall (4) blasted a one-timer from Helm. There were at least two Penguins zone mistakes, perhaps four.
“We weren’t playing the game with the level of urgency we need to, to have success,” said Sullivan. “We’re fighting for our life for a playoff spot and nothing is inevitable in this game.”
The Penguins penalty kill again stumbled. Late in the second period, Martin Frk froze the Penguins with a fake slapshot then zipped a cross-ice pass between the Penguins to Frans Nielsen who easily lit the lamp.
Luke Glendening (see featured photo) was left alone in front of the Penguins net at the same time Red Wings defenseman Nick Jensen was uncovered at the top of the zone. Glendening (10) was untouched as he put the rebound past Murray for the game winning goal.
Letang blasted a slapshot past Howard with about three minutes remaining, but it was too much, too little too late.
Glendening (11) also scored an empty netter.
The official scorers in Detroit were “giveaway” happy. The scorers saddled the Penguins with 20 giveaways and the Red Wings 17, but the scorers only awarded a total of five takeaways.
The teams combined for only 50 shots, 24 for the Penguins. Matt Murray stopped 21 of 25 shots.
The Penguins nearly had a 2-1 lead in the second period. Sidney Crosby’s shot disappeared into Howard’s leg pag and likely crossed the goal line but video proof did not exist. Crosby also just missed another goal in the second period when Red Wings defenseman Joe Ricketts deflected Crosby’s shot headed into a wide-open net.
Letang who has been more open with the media this season summed it up.
“We’re beating ourselves with turnovers and lack of management with the puck. This is a team which has got all of the talent in the world. We have to focus on playing the right way,” he said.