VANCOUVER – It was like a bad movie the Detroit Red Wings had seen before.
The Red Wings, battling for their NHL playoff lives, saw a valuable point slip through their fingers in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night. Detroit outshot the Canucks 34-14, including a 17-2 blitz in the third period.
“It is disappointing,” sighed captain Henrik Zetterberg in a quiet Detroit room. “We all know where we are in the standings.
“We need all the points we can get.”
The single point improved the Red Wings’ record to 20-16-8 for 48 points. They head into Sunday ninth in the Western Conference, one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets who hold down the eighth and final playoff spot.
Already dealing with injuries to several key players, Detroit lost fourth-line winger Drew Miller with a broken hand during the game.
At a time of the season when the Red Wings need to find another gear they seem stuck in neutral. Detroit has one win in their last six games. Three of their losses have been in shootouts.
“We didn’t score enough,” said defenceman Niklas Kronwall. “If we can bear down even more we will get our chances. We need to generate more chances.”
Against the Canucks, who improved their record to 25-13-7 and clinched a playoff spot with 57 points, the Red Wings had plenty of chances to collect a victory.
Pavel Datsyuk banged a puck off the crossbar behind Canuck goaltender Cory Schneider. Gustav Nyquist had a great chance on a deflection during a power play. Daniel Cleary just missed on a breakaway.
Coach Mike Babcock snorted when asked if his team deserved a better fate.
“I’m not into analysing that stuff,” he said. “The bottom line is we didn’t get the second point we’d like to have got.
“I thought our team had good process. We weren’t rewarded with the second point. That’s part of life. Get on with it.”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said Detroit played with desperation.
“We saw tonight the quality of Detroit, the very good team that they have,” he said. “They’re battling every night to try and get in.”
The Wings have scored two or less goals five times in this last six games. They were 0-3 on the power play against Vancouver and are 2-22 in the last half dozen contests.
Zetterberg said the missed chances are pushing the Red Wings closer to the brink.
“This is playoff hockey right now,” he said. “The power play, we need to get at least one when we have a couple of chances.
“Those are the things that kind of decide games.”
The last time Detroit missed the playoffs was 1990 but their streak of 21 consecutive seasons is in jeopardy. During that time the Red Wings have won the Stanley Cup four times, twice lost in the finals and finished first in the Western Conference six times.
“There is no time for us to feel sorry for us,” said Kronwall. “We are where we are at.
“We just have to dig down, try and stay positive and play with a lot of desperation and urgency. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. We have to stick to the program and go work hard out there.”
The Red Wings return home Sunday. They will face Phoenix, Los Angeles and Nashville in Detroit before ending their season at Dallas.
Babcock said having three of their final games at home only matters if his team takes advantage of the situation.
“I don’t care where we got them,” he said. “We have an opportunity to look after business.
“You like to think if you do good tings, eventually good things will happen.”