Two minutes and change from a nice bit of history, the Red Wings ended up with half the points they wanted.

It has been the story of their nearly completed first half: They've been a .500 team, give or take a few points, and considering everything they've been through from an injury standpoint, that's not too shabby.

They lost, 2-1, in a shoot-out Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena to the Blackhawks, but in that they are far from alone: No team has beaten the Blackhawks in regulation through their first 22 games. The Wings came within 2:02 of doing so before a 1-0 lead disappeared, and that was playing in the first game back after being on the West Coast, which never is easy.

The Wings came home from a back-to-back performance at Los Angeles and San Jose with two points that don't quite show they are playing better than they have all season. No one gets points for looking good, of course, but as the Wings face a second half that's laden with road games, it's encouraging that they at least appear to have jelled.

The most encouraging trend to emerge over the past week is on defense, where Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey, Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindl are looking more cohesive as a group. The big difference has been getting Smith back after he missed most of February with a sprained shoulder; that has allowed the other pairings to improve.

"In the first 15 games or so, I thought we took too much time in our own zone," Kronwall said. "We didn't get back to the puck quick enough. ... I think we've been doing a better job of that. That's something we've been working on, and we'll stick with it, keep working on it."