By @StefanKubus –
DETROIT – March 28, 2017 marked the first time since 1990 that the Detroit Red Wings failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
On Thursday night, it was made official that the Red Wings will officially miss the postseason for the second season in a row, as Detroit dropped a 1-0 decision to the Washington Capitals. Now, with 65 points and a possible 16 remaining, the best the Wings could finish with is 81, one back of idle New Jersey which holds the Eastern Conference’s second wild card spot.
Detroit outshot Washington, 39-26, but Caps netminder Philipp Grubauer stopped everything he faced.
“He played well, but so did Howie,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “I’ve said this before, too: we had enough chances to win the game, but we can’t score.”
“It’s been like this, too many times we haven’t been able to score when we have pretty good effort,” Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said. “We obviously had pretty good effort, I don’t think we gave much up. I thought both teams were fairly good defensively… but we’ve gotta find a way to score.”
The Red Wings thought they scored in the opening frame, but Andreas Athanasiou’s tally was called back due to goaltender interference after a Capitals challenge. Detroit then had a full, two-minute 5-on-3 power play in the second period, but failed to generate quality scoring chances.
“That should’ve ran through Zetterberg way more, we didn’t execute well enough on it, but those have gotta be goals,” Blashill said. “You’ve got to find a way to score on that, on a full two-minute 5-on-3, you’ve got to find a way to score 100-percent.”
“It seems to be story of the season,” Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard said of just coming up short. “Played a solid 60-minute game, just didn’t get results. Obviously a key to the game was that 5-on-3 in the second that they killed off and then they get a bounce there in the third.”
Brett Connolly scored with 13:19 to play in the third period on a 2-on-0 rush to open the scoring after the Red Wings had been keeping pace with the Caps through two periods. That was the only marker Washington needed to get the job done.
The loss continued a rough month for Detroit, as the team fell to 1-9-1 in March games. Thursday marked the first time since 1985-86 that the Wings have dropped nine games in March.
MORE: The team also announced just before puck drop that Mike Green would miss the remainder of the season due to neck surgery… Blashill said the team is considering calling up a defenseman from Grand Rapids.