Red Wings-Blues wrap-up: It’s no fun to be the big bully that the underdog defeats

The Detroit Red Wings struggled en route to a 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, and the Red Wings will have to get right back at ‘er on Friday as the Wings visit the high-octane Colorado Avalanche (9 PM EST start on Bally Sports Detroit Plus/Altitude/97.1 FM).

Thursday’s game was a strange one: the Red Wings actually out-shot St. Louis 31-26, out-attempted St. Louis 51-48, and the Wings were monsters in the faceoff circle, going 27-and-16…

But the shots don’t matter if the goaltender sees them all, and the faceoff wins don’t count in the long term if you ultimately lose possession early and often in the neutral zone.

So the 13-11-and-3 Red Wings fell to an ugly 4-8-and-1 away from Little Caesars Arena this season, and with 5 road games and 4 home games remaining in this month’s schedule, the Wings are going to earn ample practice time at righting their “biggest wrong” in their road record by the time 2021 is over.

On Thursday night, the Wings served as the foil for a St. Louis Blues team decimated by COVID protocols, injuries and the salary cap, playing with 17 skaters and an ECHL-starting netminder so it would be appropriate that a Welsh-born, Australian-raised forward would score the hat trick that made all the difference for the shorthanded Blues.

As In the Slot’s Louie Korac noted, it was Nathan Walker’s night on Thursday in St. Louis:

“It was incredible,” Walker said. “I guess that was it. I was just happy we got the two points and we can move on to the next game now.”

Put it in perspective: Walker had three goals in the NHL in 25 games; he scored his hat trick Thursday doing so with less than 10 minutes of ice time and finished the game with 12:50, and nearly scoring a fourth.

“Very happy for him,” [Blues coach Craig] Berube said. “He’s a hard-working guy. Really good teammate. Really happy for him. Happy for Lindgren – did his job. The team played well, though. We were pretty solid all game.”

The Blues had talked about getting off to a good start, and Walker’s first two goals provided that and a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

“I think they meant a lot to get us on the board early, especially playing shorthanded like that,” Walker said. “If you can get a bit of a cushion, it’s kind of nice for the guys.  I’m not taking all the credit for all three goals. Everyone on the ice did a lot of hard work to set those up. I’m not taking the credit for that, but getting to play with those guys and the way that they play definitely helps you out a little bit.”

Walker completed his hat trick to make it 4-1 when he was in the slot and refirected Torey Krug’s shot from the point past Thomas Greiss.

“I knew I tipped it and I saw the back of the net,” Walker said. “I didn’t know whether it might have hit ‘Sunny’ [Oskar Sundqvist] on the way in or ‘Schenner’ [Brayden Schenn]. I wasn’t sure about that. I knew I tipped it and I saw the back of the net so I just figured I’d celly.”

Walker told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tom Timmerman that he did something unusual after scoring his hat trick:

And soon the hats started raining down for his first career hat trick, which was fitting since Walker has a side business selling hats and other clothing called

“I actually checked my phone,” he said. “I had a few orders afterwards, so it was kind of nice. Maybe if I get a few more goals, I’ll get some more orders, but it was good.”

But he may not be here long. As an emergency exception, once the Blues have 18 healthy skaters, he has to go back to the AHL. Right now, they’re at 16 (not counting Walker), but David Perron skated Thursday and Tyler Bozak comes off the COVID list on Friday. As soon as those two are ready to go, Walker has to be sent back.

But that’s a matter for another day. Right now, the Blues are making the most with the least. Walker’s first two goals put the Blues up 2-0, which helped ease Lindgren into the game. His third made it 4-1 and pretty much wrapped it up.

“I think they meant a lot to get us on the board early, especially playing shorthanded like that,” Walker said. “If you can get a bit of a cushion, it’s kind of nice for the guys. I’m not taking all the credit for all three goals. Everyone on the ice did a lot of hard work to set those up. I’m not taking the credit for that, but getting to play with those guys and the way that they play definitely helps you out a little bit.”

And Walker had competition in the “first star” category, as Timmerman noted:

It took a hat trick from Walker to overshadow [Charlie] Lindgren, who made his first start with the Blues and got his second win, stopping 29 of 31 shots. Like Walker, Lindgren has been thrust into the picture with the Blues because of their dire roster situation, and he came through.

In all, there were five players in the Blues’ lineup who have played at Springfield this season — Walker, Lindgren, Dakota Joshua, Logan Brown and Scott Perunovich — and they have all played a part in the team going 4-1-1 in their past six games.

“I think it’s awesome,” Lindgren said. “We’re having a really good year down there, really good start, everyone’s contributing. It’s fun to see us five up here right now. We’re pushing each other. We’re trying to make every day count. And it’s a great group of guys, I think, the leaders on this team, they welcomed us in and they’ve done such a good job with us. I think a lot of credit goes to the dressing room as a whole as well.”

Korac also writes for, and his recap continues Lindgren’s story:

Lindgren made his first NHL start since March 7, 2020, for the Montreal Canadiens; he got the win in relief of the injured Ville Husso on Tuesday, playing the final 6:25 of a 4-3 overtime win against the Florida Panthers. Lindgren is behind Jordan Binnington (protocol), Husso (lower-body injury) and Joel Hofer on the depth chart. Hofer could not be called up from Springfield.

“I think a lot of the nerves that I get is more so before the puck drops,” Lindgren said, “and then once that puck drops, you really just want to go out and play and feel the puck. And I thought Detroit, they were trying to put a lot of pucks to the net early and that always kind of helps just trying to get a rhythm. And I think our team scoring a couple goals early, that always helps to kind of settle me in and we end up potting six. So, really, really good team effort tonight.”

Walker gave the Blues a 1-0 lead at 6:17 of the first period when his shot from the top of the right face-off circle squirted through Nedeljkovic’s pads. Walker made it 2-0 at 16:47 when he skated into the left circle and scored with a wrist shot.

Fabbri cut it to 2-1 at 4:17 of the second period with a wrist shot from the right circle that was high to the short side.

Colton Parayko made it 3-1 at 16:01 when he poked in a loose puck in the crease. “I think it was one of those nights in the first two periods where the puck went in for them and it didn’t go in for us,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “I felt we had as many opportunities if not more than them.” 

Ivan Barbashev‘s redirection extended the lead to 5-1 at 10:11 of the third, but Fabbri scored on a breakaway at 15:27 to make it 5-2.

Scandella scored into an empty net with six seconds left for the 6-2 final.

“I thought they were harder at the net,” Blashill said. “They had more net presence than us. Look at their goals, they were strong at the net.  I felt like we lost our game in the third. We had a couple of big breakdowns in our end. But it wasn’t a game where I was disappointed with the effort.” 

Effort was one thing; execution was another for Detroit, and the AP’s recap noted that one particular Red Wing left the game with a sour taste in his mouth:

Robby Fabbri had both Detroit goals against his former club.

”A win would have felt a lot better in this building against that team,” he said.

Walker scored twice in the first period, almost matching his career total coming into the game. He added his third goal in the final period.

”It was incredible. I guess that was it,” Walker said. ”To get three I think is pretty special, but I’m just glad we could get the two points.”

Walker scored at the 6:17 mark for a 1-0 lead. Brayden Schenn won a puck along the boards and Walker picked it up. His wrist shot from the top of the right circle went through the pads of goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. Walker’s second goal came at 16:47. Niko Mikkola skated with the puck into the zone and dropped it back to Walker. Skating into the left circle, his wrist shot beat Nedeljkovic on his glove side.

Each team scored once in the second period. The Red Wings cut the lead to 2-1 when Fabbri scored from the right circle at 4:17. St. Louis got it back when Parayko tapped in a loose puck behind Nedlejkovic, who couldn’t corral a shot by Mikkola, at 16:01.

Detroit switched to Thomas Greiss in net for the third period. Nedlejkovic stopped 16 of 18 shots.

”Last time we played St. Louis he stole the game,” coach Jeff Blashill said. ”So to me, it’s a night where their pucks just went in and it wasn’t necessarily anyone’s fault. We had some breakdowns, don’t get me wrong.”

Fabbri basically agreed with Walker’s take on the game–that the Blues afforded the Wings an opportunity to dig a hole for themselves early, and dug it deep enough that Detroit couldn’t claw back into the game–while speaking with the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan

“It’s another tough one, tough start by us digging ourselves a hole like last game,” said forward Robby Fabbri, who scored both Wings goals. “It’s tough to come out of. We didn’t play horribly. We gave up some things, but we worked and sustained some pressure in the offensive zone. We just didn’t get enough bodies at the net.”

Fabbri, returning to play in St. Louis for the first time since being traded to the Wings early in the 2019-20 season, supplied all the offense, with Lucas Raymond earning assists on both goals.

Goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 15-of-18 shots before being replaced by Thomas Greiss to begin the third period.

Nedeljkovic had breaks go against him, but it was in all, an evening the Blues capitalized more than the Wings did.

“We started real good and it was one of those nights through two periods where the puck went in for them and didn’t go in for us,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We certainly had as many opportunities, if not more. They were harder at the net and had a better net presence. You look at their goals, they did a good job at the net.”

Fabbri agreed with his coach:

“He (Lindgren) was seeing a lot of the shots, it made it easy for him,” Fabbri said. “We have to have the same urgency and compete level that we start the second and third periods on the road. When you dig yourselves a hole on the road, it’s tough to come out of, especially in buildings like this one where they feed off their home crowd.”

Ultimately, coach Blashill suggested that the Red Wings played well enough to win, but didn’t win:

“We carried the play through good stretches of the second and moments of the third but we couldn’t find ways to create good enough chances, because not enough net presence,” Blashill said. “When they had opportunities it went in. We definitely maintained offensive zone possession to create more than we created through two periods. We do need to have better net presence.”

As Detroit Hockey Now’s Bob Duff pointed out, Fabbri played well

Fabbri was facing his former team for the second time of his career and during this season. He ended up tallying both Red Wings goals.

“I’ve been happy with Fabbs’ game through most of the year,” Blashill said. “He can score. There’s no doubt about it. He knows how to score, so it’s good that he got rewarded there.”

Fabbri’s been skating on the top line with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond while Tyler Bertuzzi is in COVID-19 protocol. He wasn’t looking upon his brace of goals as being rewarding in any manner.

“A win would have felt a lot better in this building against that team,” Fabbri said. “At the end of the day, we’ll get another shot at it to come back next year and win in this building.”

And Fabbri had help from a familiar friend:

Both of Fabbri’s goals were the creation of some high-end skill moves made by Red Wings rookie forward Raymond.

On the first goal, he made a clever tap touch pass to drop the puck to Fabbri. The latter drove to the net and beat Blues goalie Charlie Lindgren. The second goal saw Raymond fire a tape-to-tape pass from behind the Detroit goal line to set Fabbri free.

“Certainly he has the ability to make plays in critical moments,” Blashill said. “I thought in those moments tonight that he played real good.”

The two assists gave Raymond 24 points, allowing him to reclaim the NHL rookie scoring lead from Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks.’s Jonathan Mills will take us out with a pair of quotes, one from the coach and one from Fabbri:

Jeff Blashill on his takeaways from Detroit’s 6-2 loss against the Blues: “I thought we started real good. I think it was one of those nights, through two periods, where the puck went in for them and it didn’t go in for us. I thought they were harder at the net. They had better net presence than us. That’s the one thing when you look at all their goals and they did a real good job at the net. I thought we lost our game a little bit in the third, especially in our own zone, a couple of big breakdowns. It wasn’t a game where I was disappointed with our effort.”

Robby Fabbri on his thoughts of Detroit’s performance: “It was another tough one, another tough start by us. Digging ourselves a hole like last game, that’s tough to come out of. It’s nice we get to turn around and we have another match tomorrow to try to turn this around.”

At this time of year, some 27 games into the season, execution is everything, and the Red Wings didn’t have good execution on Thursday. So they ended up being the foil to a plucky underdog that got the job done themselves.


Highlights: Sportsnet posted an 8:18 highlight clip: posted a 9:08 highlight clip:

Post-game: Bally Sports Midwest spoke with goaltender Charlie Lindgren…

And forward Nathan Walker…

As well as a bit of coach Craig Berube’s post-game presser:

The Blues’ website posted a composite clip of Lindgren, Walker and Berube’s remarks:

Bally Sports Detroit posted a portion of Robby Fabbri’s post-game presser:

Trevor Thompson also spoke with coach Jeff Blashill:

The Red Wings posted a 2:01 clip of Fabbri and Blashill’s remarks:

Photos: The Free Press posted an 11-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted an 11-image gallery; posted a 28-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.