DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings' struggles with consistency cost them a huge divisional game.
They were unable to build on a good start Thursday at Little Caesars Arena, falling behind during an uninspired second period to end up with a 6-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Wings are 4-5-4 at home, and have gone six games since their last victory. They've been outscored, 16-8 the past four games.
It looked like a win might be brewing in the first period, as the Wings earned offensive zone time and some great chances. Anthony Mantha scored his 12th goal of the season and Tomas Tatar scored his eighth to create a 2-1 lead, but the Canadiens scored three times in the second period while the Wings got away from attacking and creating good scoring opportunities.
Frans Nielsen scored on a power play with 2:24 left in regulation, assisted by Mantha and Dylan Larkin.
The Atlantic division opponents play again Saturday in Montreal.
Mantha scored his fourth goal in seven career games against Montreal at 5:14 of the first period when he fired a shot from the right circle that clanked in off the far goalpost. Fellow French-Canadian Xavier Ouellet fed Mantha the puck. The goal came a minute after the Canadiens had converted with three seconds left in a power play when Max Pacioretty's shot went in off Brendan Gallagher's stick.
Tatar made it 2-1 when he converted 30 seconds into Detroit's second power play. Tatar had the puck in the left circle, gave it to Gustav Nyquist, who dropped it back to Tatar. Tatar fired a shot that eluded Carey Price, who was screened by Justin Abdelkader. The Wings had been 0-for-5 on power play opportunities through the prior two games. The Wings had two shots on power plays and two shots short-handed in the first period, part of a 13-6 overall edge after 20 minutes.
The Canadiens scored 43 seconds apart in the second period to take a 3-2 lead. First, Charles Hudon took advantage of an opening and beat Wings goalie Jimmy Howard glove side; then Andrew Shaw fired from point-blank range, at 5:29.
Alex Galchenyuk scored at 17:49 to double the Canadiens' lead. The Wings were outshot 13-9 in the period, and didn't generate many quality chances.
The Wings didn't come up with the fire they needed in the third period -- they got one shot on net through the first handful of minutes, and any hope of a rally was nipped when Gallagher tipped a bouncy puck into Detroit's net at 8:35. Pacioretty snuck a loose puck into the net on a power play with four minutes left in regulation.
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