Red Wings powerless against Devils in road loss

Associated Press • Dec 28, 2017 at 2:03 AM

NEWARK, N.J. — A familiar script is beginning surface game after game with the Red Wings.

Play decent hockey, look respectable, but play well enough to lose.

It was more of the same Wednesday, as a bad first period sent the Red Wings on their way to a 3-1 loss in New Jersey.

The Red Wings' power play didn't help matters either, going 0-for-5, not producing with the game on the line.

The loss was the third consecutive defeat for the Red Wings (13-16-7, 33 points), who have gone a dismal 3-7-5 over the last 15 games since Nov.19.

Justin Abdelkader scored for the Red Wings.

Abdelkader cut New Jersey's lead to 2-1 with his sixth goal in the second period.

The goal energized the Red Wings, who controlled most of the play after that. But just like Saturday's loss in Boston, an empty-net goal, this one by Jersey's Sami Vatanen put it away.

Tyler Bertuzzi, who was one of the Wings' more effective players, found Abdelkader at the dot and Abdelkader snapped a shot past goalie Cory Schneider.

It was Abdelkader's first goal since Dec. 5, and ended a seven-game drought without a point.

Nico Hischier, the NHL's No. 1 overall pick in June, scored two goals.

Hischier opened the game's scoring with his sixth goal at 15:16 of the first period.

Defenseman Steven Santini got the puck at the point and snapped a shot that clipped off Hischier's stick and redirected past Howard.

It didn't take long for Hischier to make it 2-0 with his seventh goal.

Hischier began the play forcing a turnover off the stick of Darren Helm in the zone. Taylor Hall gathered the puck near the dot and made a dot-to-dot pass to Hischier in the circle, and Hischier's one-timer beat Howard at 18:22.

The only drawback for Hischier on the evening were the three penalties he took.

But the Red Wings couldn't do anything with the three power plays, the last one toward the end of the first period – after Hischier high-sticked Dylan Larkin – producing the most pressure.

The Devils (22-9-5, 49 points) have been one of the surprise teams in the NHL, as the schedule reaches the halfway mark.

But as far as coach Jeff Blashill is concerned, talking after the morning skate, there's nothing fluky about New Jersey's young, talented roster.

"It's a real good hockey team," Blashill said. "They've added some pieces this year, a number of pieces, that have made their team better.

"I also think sometimes it's confidence, and they have some swagger going for sure. They're a real good hockey team, no question about it."

Blashill was impressed after New Jersey came into Little Caesars Arena Nov. 25 and defeated the Red Wings in overtime.

"When we played them earlier I said to myself 'They're here to stay'," Blashill said. "This isn't a fluke by any stretch. They are well coached, have a good captain, and good leadership.

"They're a good team."

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