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Wings can’t play catch-up at home

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DETROIT _ The Red Wings had hoped being at home would help right them. It didn't.

Spotting any opponent a three-goal lead is tough to overcome, all the more so when it's the middle of March and that opponent is trying to shore up a playoff spot. The Wings ended their power play drought Monday and scored twice in the third period, but still came up short, 5-3, to the Washington Capitals, who beat them 7-1 back in October.

Alex Ovechkin scored on both Capitals power plays goals in the first period, bookending goals around Mike Knuble's contribution. Kevin Aucoin had the game winner and Jason Chimera an empty-netter.

Kyle Quincey scored on Detroit's power play, and Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Cleary also had goals as the Wings fell to 0-4-1 in their past five games; they've won once in their last eight games and are 3-6-1 since Nicklas Lidstrom got hurt Feb. 25.

The Wings' injured included Lidstrom and Johan Franzen, but the power play has struggled just as much when they've been in the lineup. The penalty kill was without Darren Helm, who is out a month with a sprained knee.

The first game back after a road trip can be a challenge, as players are still adjusting to the time change. The Wings did all right in the opening minutes, but all it takes for a guy with Ovechkin's skill is one shot: Straight up the middle, one-timer, and it was 1-0 at 7:48. Brendan Smith's mishandling of the puck led to Knuble's goal, and a goalie interference call on Tomas Holmstrom nullified what would have been a goal by Cory Emmerton and instead set up the Capitals' second man advantage. Ovechkin converted that when he caught Brooks Laich's rebound down low.

The Wings were 0-for-31 with the man advantage when Quincey converted the first chance since Feb. 28 at Columbus, firing a shot from the blue line while Todd Bertuzzi screened Braden Holtby. The penalty killers came through on Washington's third power play, but it was back to a three-goal deficit before the second period ended. After the puck hit Danny Cleary and dropped to the ice, Kevin Aucoin was first to scoop it up, spin around and net it.

The first line got it back down to two goals in the opening minute of the third period. Pavel Datsyuk sent the puck from the blue line to Brad Stuart, who carried it in from the boards and found Gustav Nyquist down low. Danny Cleary scored his first goal since Feb. 2 when he reached into the crease and knocked in Smith's shot, with just over seven minutes to play in the third period.

(c)2012 the Detroit Free Press

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