Easy road to the top?

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

With eight of their 15 wins coming against Chicago, Columbus and sad-sack St. Louis, the Detroit Red Wings had been accused of padding their record against the dregs of the NHL, all of which conveniently reside in their division.

It seemed like nit-picking at first, but after an 0-for-3 trip through the Northwest that began with losses in Vancouver and Calgary and culminated with a 6-5 defeat to the Oilers, there might be some validity to the charges.

"It's (a road trip) we'd like to forget, simply put," said defenceman Mathieu Schneider. "We played well in spurts, but that's not good enough to win in this league, especially when you're playing teams as good as the ones we played over the last three games here.

"We didn't play 60 minutes in any of the games on this trip and the schedule isn't getting any easier."

The Wings, playing their second game in as many nights, started slowly, outshot 7-1 at one point in the first period, but found their legs in the second period and took a 3-1 lead into the third.

But a game that seemed to be well in hand slipped through their fingers when Edmonton scored four-straight in the third period.

"We came out here with a plan to win all three and all we got was one out of a possible six points, so that's disappointing," said head coach Mike Babcock. "It's pretty evident we have some things to work on."

Like preserving a lead.

"We knew they were going to keep coming," said Kirk Maltby. "No matter what the score is that team doesn't quit. We stopped making plays, gave them some opportunities and they capitalized.

"We're not saying we had the game won after the second, but we just had to keep playing the way we were, but for some reason we can't stay focused for 60 minutes."

They fought back from 5-3 to tie it, only to give it up with Maltby sitting in the box for goaltender interference in overtime.

"I'm battling for the puck and I kind of got a little push in the back," said Maltby. "You'd think from the way Markkanen went down, I'd skated from one end of the ice to the other. It's a referee's judgement call and whether I like it or not he called it.

"When it's four-on-three on overtime there's a lot of ice out there and Stoll has a pretty good shot and unfortunately he got it."

After a 15-2-1 start, which included a nine-game winning streak, the Wings are trying to come to grips with a three-game losing skid.

"It's frustrating," said Brendan Shanahan. "We're not accustomed to losing, we don't like losing, but you're going to have adversity throughout the season and they are a good test."


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