Red Wings embarrassed by Blackhawks

DETROIT — Gordie Howe was at the game. So was Nicklas Lidstrom. Those were the highlights for the Red Wings.

In a homecoming they can’t distance themselves from fast enough, the Wings were unequivocally schooled by the Chicago Blackhawks, losing 7-1 at Joe Louis Arena in a matinee massacre Sunday.

“It was painful to watch,” coach Mike Babcock said. “It was 57 minutes of pain.”

Niklas Kronwall repeatedly called the Wings’ worst loss of the season, “embarrassing.”

The disaster stood out all the more as the Wings had just returned from a very successful 3-1 road trip, which included two victories at Anaheim. The first game back after playing on the west coast is notoriously rough, but the Wings set a new measure for awful by falling behind by three goals in 4 minutes. Instead of hanging on, which is what usually happens as players get tired legs up and running, the Wings let go, undone by one defensive mistake after another.

“I’m always cautious when you come back from the road,” Babcock said, “but to me, you have no excuses this time of year. None whatsoever. There’s just no reason for it at all.”

Captain Henrik Zetterberg missed the game and is unlikely to play Monday against Colorado because of a sore groin. Mikael Samuelsson returned for what was just his fourth game of the season, but left after two periods with an upper-body injury. Babcock didn’t have any further update, but general manager Ken Holland said the injury was “nothing significant.”

The Blackhawks hardly looked like they missed injured stars Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, chasing Jimmy Howard after four goals on 14 shots and then pouring another three goals past Jonas Gustavsson. Cory Emmerton scored with 33 seconds remaining, accomplishing nothing more than avoiding a shutout.

“We have to find a way to be a lot better than that,” Kronwall said. “It was obviously not good enough. There’s no excuse. We just weren’t playing hockey to start whatsoever today.”

Jeremy Morin was able to get enough power into a short backhand shot to hit the back of Jimmy Howard’s net at 2:33, and less than a minute later, Brandon Saad made it 2-0 on a nice move after getting a long pass from Martin Frolik. Dave Bolland got credit for the third goal, though it was Jakub Kindl who had the puck on his stick as the puck went into Detroit’s net, at 4:12.

Brian Lashoff nearly made a little dent late in the period after Brendan Smith had carried the puck to the net on a rush, but Lashoff’s shot clanked off the crossbar.

That the Wings didn’t respond better when there was still 55 minutes left in a 3-0 game baffled.

“I talked about that,” Babcock said. “But we didn’t do anything with it.”

A time-out didn’t help. An entire intermission didn’t help. Four minutes into the second period, it was 5-0, on goals from Jonathan Toews and a second from Saad.

“We had a period to get organized and regrouped and get at her, and then they came down and shot it in our net right away, again,” Babcock said. “When we changed Howie, they shot it in the very next shift. Bottom line, whatever we did was poor and doesn’t reflect on us well at all as far as our preparation goes.”

Saad’s second came after Toews won a face-off, and Niklas Hjalmarsson sent a bouncing puck halfway down the ice.

‘”He had a lot of speed, so I thought maybe he was going to go around me, and then it was a quick shot instead,” Gustavsson said. “After that, the game is pretty much over.”

If only. The game went on for 36 more minutes, time enough for Bolland to score his second of the day, and for Nick Leddy to leave the Wings with a season-worst seven goals allowed.

“Ugly is an understatement,” Babcock said. “Preparation and work ethic are two things you need to be successful in any walk of life, and we weren’t prepared and we didn’t compete at a high enough level. Any way you look at it, they capitalized on our poor effort. Did I see it coming? No. Is there any excuse for it? No. It’s flat-out not acceptable.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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