Red Wings-Golden Knights wrap-up: Wings lose 3rd straight on the road, Seider to unspecified shot block injury

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 5-2 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night, and it was a particularly frustrating loss because the Red Wings pretty much kept up with the Golden Knights until the game got away from them.

Detroit is now 0-and-3 on their road trip, and has given up 5 goals against in 3 straight games, with Saturday’s road finale in Arizona wrapping up a brutal stretch of 11 games played over the course of 17 nights (and the Red Wings have lost 4 of their past 5).

Coach Jeff Blashill told Bally Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson that the Wings’ inability to practice due to the proximity of games and travel meant that the team’s defensive structure and overall structure “have dipped,” and he felt that an actual road practice in Arizona would help the Wings remedy their structural issues.

All of that being said, the Red Wings’ relative lack of depth has everyone worried about Moritz Seider after he took a shot off the right knee late in the 3rd period:

Sending good vibes to big Mo. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/IZZKWSOf6E— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) November 19, 2021

Our friends from Las Vegas are afflicted with a slew of their own injuries, so there was no sympathy from the Golden Knights for any potential personnel issues in Detroit. In fact, Zach Whitecloud, who scored the 2-0 and 3-1 goals for Vegas, returned to the lineup coming off an injury, as Vegas Hockey Now’s Owen Krepps noted:

One player that returned from injury for the Golden Knights was Zach Whitecloud who put the puck past the goal line three times Thursday. Only two of his attempts counted on the scoresheet but nonetheless, it was the defender’s first multi-goal game in the NHL.

“It was exciting to get back in obviously when you are injured you are away from the boys in the regular schedule and you start to miss out obviously you just want to get playing as quickly as possible but it was exciting to get back and to be back contributing and helping out the best I can,” said Whitecloud.

Nic Hague also found the back of the net and celebrated in dramatic fashion falling after his goal. The Golden Knights have fourteen goals scored this season from defensemen. They are the only team in the NHL with three defenders who have three-plus goals.

The Red Wings have goals from…Moritz Seider (2) and no other defenseman…

Anyway, the Las Vegas Sun’s Mike Grimala told the game’s narrative

Taking the ice with three players on the COVID list and another handful on the injured list, the Knights found a way to patch together an offensive outburst in the second period. Nicolas Hague got the scoring started early in the period; Alex Pietrangelo’s shot from the point was stopped by Detroit goaltender Thomas Greiss, but Hague swooped across the crease to bang in the rebound and make it 1-0.

Two minutes later Mark Stone generated a turnover in Detroit’s zone and gained control of the puck. Stone zipped a pass across the ice to Whitecloud, who settled it and fired a wrister past Greiss from the bottom of the circle to extend Vegas’ lead to 2-0.

Detroit cut into the lead midway through the period when Givani Smith battled through a pileup in front of the Vegas net and swept a rebound past Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner, but Whitecloud got it back immediately by scoring his second goal of the night.

Nicolas Roy won a faceoff in the right circle and was able to draw it back to Whitecloud. With a clean look at the net, Whitecloud fired a wrister to the top corner over Greiss’ outstretched glove.

Whitecloud came into the game with two career goals.

“It was exciting to get back in, obviously,” Whitecloud said. “When you’re injured for an extended period of time, or any time you’re away from the boys and the regular schedule, you start to miss that. Sitting up in the press box, you just want to get playing as quick as possible. It’s exciting to be back contributing and helping out as best I can.”

Paul Cotter gave the Knights a 4-1 lead with a goal in the final minute of the second period, and Reilly Smith salted it away with 15 minutes left in the third period. Receiving a pass from Mattias Janmark, Smith came across the blue line alone and deked goalie Alex Nedeljkovic (who replaced Greiss after the second period) before lifting a backhand shot into the net.

“I think we did a good job getting scoring from a lot of different people tonight,” Smith said. “We need that because you have people going down—it seems like every day there’s someone new. So guys coming into the lineup like Cotter did and jump in and score a timely goal, it helps us.”

And Vegas coach Pete DeBoer agreed with Smith in speaking with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s David Schoen:

“It seems every day we get something new thrown at us,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “They don’t let anything affect them. We canceled practice (Wednesday) and didn’t skate (Thursday). We showed up, and I thought we were a little sluggish, but found our legs and our game. I thought we were better in every phase than we were against Carolina the other night.”

The Golden Knights exploded away from the Wings in the second period…

The Knights continued their recent dominance of the second period, outscoring Detroit 4-1 in the middle stanza.

The four goals matched their season high for a period and was the second time in the past three games the Knights have managed the feat. They scored four times in the third period to pull away against Vancouver on Saturday.

On the homestand, the Knights have outscored their five opponents 10-3 combined. That includes a plus-2 differential in the loss to Carolina on Tuesday.

For the season, the Knights have outscored their opponents 19-17 in the second period.

“I think we’re a good transition team, so you get that second-period line change and you’re able to create a little bit more offense on rushes and quick-ups,” Smith said. “We didn’t exactly score that way tonight, but I think sustained pressure and keeping tired defenders out there, I think we’re doing a good job of that.”

Smith continued while speaking with the Associated Press, and he noted that Vegas earned a measure of revenge against the Wings on Thursday night, too:

”It’s good to win against that team,” said Smith, who’s been with Vegas since Year One. ”I know our first year they came in and beat us and they were one of the only teams to do that the first 15, 20 home games. I think we did a good job getting scoring from a lot of people tonight. We need that because with people going down it seems like every day it’s someone new.”

During their 12-game run, the Golden Knights have the second-most wins (nine) in the league and rank third with 3.58 goals per game, an abrupt change from the league’s fifth-worst 2.0 goals per game they averaged over their first five games.

Givani Smith and Joe Veleno scored for Detroit, and starting goaltender Thomas Greiss stopped 18 shots before being pulled after two periods. Alex Nedeljkovic replaced Greiss and made nine saves.

The Red Wings were frustrated by what transpired in the 2nd period…

Vegas put the game to bed early in the third period when Mattias Janmark sprung Reilly Smith with a stunning pass at the offensive blueline. Reilly Smith skated in and deked Nedeljkovic beautifully before roofing home a backhand to put the Golden Knights up by four.

Veleno’s goal with 1:26 left provided the final margin, as Detroit dropped its third straight.

”I thought we were getting better over the course of the last week and a half,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. ”We lost coverage on some stuff we talked about in the pregame and we made some mistakes and they ended up in the net.”

And in the FYI department:

The Red Wings are three wins from 3,000 in franchise history.

Coach Blashill and forward Sam Gagner told NHL.com’s Danny Webster that the Wings actually showed some improvement from their previous losses…with the problem being that Vegas’ chances ended up in the back of the net:

Givani Smith and Joe Veleno scored for the Red Wings (8-9-2), who lost their third consecutive game after winning four of five. Thomas Greiss allowed four goals on 22 shots in two periods. He was replaced by Alex Nedeljkovic, who made nine saves.

“I thought honestly we made some mistakes, but we were better defensively at times,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “We still obviously made some mistakes, and when we made them they ended up in our net.”

Hague gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead at 3:31 of the second period, gathering a rebound from Alex Pietrangelo‘s point shot and scoring in the top right corner. 

Whitecloud made it 2-0 at 5:56 after receiving a cross-ice pass from Mark Stone and scoring five-hole, but Givani Smith cut it to 2-1 at 10:19 with his first goal since Feb. 7.

“Confidence goes both ways, offensively and defensively,” Red Wings forward Sam Gagner said. “The only way to get it back is through work and making sure we’re detailed. We’re making errors as a team that’s trying to grow and forge an identity. We have to be better in those areas.”

Gagner told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that the Red Wings’ goaltending is not the issue:

“And we’re getting good goaltending,” forward Sam Gagner said. “It’s just a scenario where we have to be better defensively. We talked about that being our identity and it has to be a lot better.”

The Wings wanted to be a team with a tough defensive identity this season, building off what they began to develop last season. But thus far through the first-quarter of the season, the Wings have been uncharacteristically loose defensively and it’s hurt them often.

“We made some mistakes and pucks went in, but we were better defensively at times for sure, certainly than we were the last couple of games,” said coach Jeff Blashill of Thursday’s loss. “We still made some mistakes and when we made them, they ended up in our net and that’s unfortunate, not good enough. We have to get our structure back and our habits back, specifically in defensive zone coverage and tracking going into our end.”

Givani Smith, returning to the lineup after a three-game stretch as a healthy scratch, scored for the Wings, along with Joe Veleno in the final minute.

“Givani Smith came in and played real well,” Blashill said. “The line, they were on the ice for a goal against and that was a mistake, but Givani Smith gave us a spark and played real well.”

Coach Blashill also offered this telling remark regarding the Red Wings’ changing personnel…

The Wings stand 28th (out of 32 teams) in goals against, allowing 3.42 goals per game. Many of the defensive metrics aren’t kind to the Wings, who are incorporating several young players into the lineup, but rookies and veterans alike making too many defensive errors.

“We don’t have exactly the same team (from last season) and we have to get back to work,” Blashill said. “We were getting better over the course of the last week and a half, we haven’t practiced (much because of the demanding recent schedule) and I look back and we’ve lost our structure and our habits. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

That requires practice to mediate, and the Red Wings will practice on Friday, but, as Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen notes, Moritz Seider might not be among them:

Red Wings rookie defenseman Moritz Seider collapsed to the ice after taking a Reilly Smith shot off the inside of his right knee late in the game. Seider was eventually able to hobble off the ice but went straight to the dressing room and did not return.

“Too early,” Blashill said when asked for an assessment of Seider’s condition. “I’m not certain. I didn’t even have a chance to talk to our trainer yet.”

Seider is second among NHL rookie scorers with 2-11-13 totals. He’s trailing only teammate Lucas Raymond (7-11-18). Seider also leads rookies in ice time per game (22:19).

“He’s huge for us, the confidence and the poise he plays with, the aggressiveness,” teammate Sam Gagner said. “He’s been unbelievable for us. He is a guy that’s leading for us even as a young guy, so huge importance to our team.”

DetroitRedWings.com’s Jonathan Mills summarized the Wings’ defensive struggles thusly…

Playing their fourth game in six days, the Detroit Red Wings (8-9-2) couldn’t find their rhythm and fell to the Vegas Golden Knights (10-7-0), 5-2, on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.

“The thing about good defensive hockey is that it really should be called ‘good winning hockey,'” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “It has nothing to do with being one way or the other. The only way anybody wins in this league is with good defense.”

And Sam Gagner told us all something we know–that the Red Wings need to get back to communicating with each other if they are to succeed in shoring up their defense:

“There were areas tonight where if we were cleaner and talked a little more, we could have got out early,” Red Wings center Sam Gagner said. “Once you don’t get out early, they start buzzing. We need to do a better job of containing it.”

Multimedia:

Highlights: Sportsnet posted an 8:21 highlight clip:

And NHL.com posted a 9:03 highlight clip:

Post-game: On Vegas’ side, Nic Hague and Zach Whitecloud spoke with the media…

🎥 Hague & Whitecloud 🎥

Hague: Big tree fall hard. pic.twitter.com/b0fXv8Z61V— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 19, 2021

As did Robin Lehner…

🎥 Lehner: We’re doing the best we can. No morning skate, a little extra energy so that was nice. I thought it was a good game. pic.twitter.com/xYpnirUF8s— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 19, 2021

Reilly Smith and Paul Cotter…

🎥 Smith & Cotter 🎥

Cotter: That was really cool to score against my hometown team. pic.twitter.com/Bc4dRxK7QD— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 19, 2021

And coach Pete DeBoer as well:

🎥 DeBoer: It was a really solid game. I really liked our game. We were much better in every area than we were the other night against Carolina. pic.twitter.com/x9YG9rrjdl— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 19, 2021

Whitecloud spoke with A&TT Sportsnet Rocky Mountain, too:

The Free Press’s Helene St. James posted a 5:07 clip of coach Jeff Blashill and forward Sam Gagner’s post-game comments:

The Red Wings posted a 2:55 clip of Gagner and Blashill’s remarks:

Update: Here’s coach Blashill with Bally Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson:

Photos: The Free Press posted an 18-image gallery;

NHL.com posted a 110-image gallery.

Statistics: Here are the Game Summary and Event Summary:

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.