Red Wings hope rest pays off against Penguins

Sports
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The Detroit Red Wings got a rare four-day break in the schedule to work on their issues.

The Wings carry a 10-game losing streak (0-8-2) into their home game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Detroit’s 7-20-3 record is easily the worst in the NHL.

Coach Jeff Blashill held three practices since Detroit’s last game, a 4-1 home loss to the New York Islanders on Monday, in an effort to make his club more competitive. He emphasized a positive approach.

“If you mope around, it’s hard to play at a high level,” he said. “We worked real hard and we had fun working. … Having fun sometimes means enjoying the grind of the NHL, enjoying the work you’ve got to put in, enjoying the competitiveness of the NHL.”

The Red Wings scored just five goals in their past six games. but defensive coverage was also a point of emphasis, as well as the specialty units. Detroit ranks 26th in power-play scoring percentage and last in penalty killing.

“It’s not easy when you’re losing every night to come in with a great attitude,” forward Luke Glendening said. “Maybe these four days will be good for us in terms of … if we can have some fun on the ice and some fun together, hopefully we’ll have a renewed energy when we play on Saturday.”

Fourth-line stalwart Justin Abdelkader practiced during the week and could return to action. He hasn’t played since Nov. 10 due to a mid-body injury. Abdelkader could give the penalty kill a boost.

“To have his leadership and the style of play he brings to our team, any time you can get a guy like him back in your lineup, it’s great,” Glendening said.

Abdelkader could see his role change.

“When Abby came in the league, he was a center,” Blashill said. “I’ve thought about potentially putting him in the middle a little bit, so we’ll see.”

This will be the first of three meetings between the Penguins and Red Wings. Pittsburgh won last season’s series 3-1.

The Penguins haven’t given up a goal in their past two games. They defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on Wednesday and the Arizona Coyotes 2-0 on Friday.

They’ve won their past 10 home games, but they won’t have the luxury of the home-ice advantage on Saturday. Tristan Jarry has recorded both shutouts. He stopped 28 shots against the Blues and 33 more against the Coyotes.

“I love Pittsburgh. I love playing here. It’s awesome,” Jarry said. “The fans have great support at all times. It’s fun to go out there every period.”

Jarry is actually the team’s No. 2 goalie, but coach Mike Sullivan might be forced to elevate him above Matt Murray on the depth chart.

Jarry became the first Pittsburgh goaltender to notch shutouts in consecutive games since Marc-Andre Fleury achieved that feat in February 2015.

“We’re trying to make decisions to win games in the short run and try and have the big picture in mind,” Sullivan said. “Tristan this last handful of starts, he’s been great.”

–Field Level Media

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