The Detroit Red Wings did a fine job of winning a 4-1 decision over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday evening; the Wings will attempt to extend their winning streak to 3 games as they face the Florida Panthers on Saturday night (7:00 PM EST on FSD Plus/FS Florida/97.1 FM).
The Red Wings played at least a solid 50 of 60 minutes against the Hurricanes, and the Hurricanes’ players tipped their hats to the Red Wings’ desire and determination, as noted by the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander:
“They were obviously the hungrier team,” Canes center Jordan Staal said. “There wasn’t enough effort from everyone, including myself, to get us the win.”
Canes coach Bill Peters didn’t argue with that, saying that was a “fair statement.”
Sebastian Aho did score his team-leading 18th goal. The forward’s power-play score in the first period gave the Canes a 1-0 lead, although it may have given the Canes a false sense of security — playing at home before a crowd of 18,126, scoring first against a team they beat 3-1 in Detroit a couple of weeks ago.
Scott Darling was the starting goalie for the Canes after Cam Ward’s 2-0 shutout of the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. It was Darling’s first game since the nightmarish start against the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 21, when he allowed three goals on eight shots and was lifted 13 minutes into the game.Darling had some good moments and good stops Friday, but Petr Mrazek was better for the Wings and had 36 saves.“We gave them too many scoring chances tonight,” Aho said. “(Darling) was good tonight but we didn’t help him enough.”Aho didn’t think the fresher team won — the Wings topped San Jose 2-1 on Wednesday, then had Thursday off.“They played a really fast game and we didn’t play our game,” Aho said.
“Net-front traffic, I think, is the easy answer,” Hurricanes forward Lee Stempniak said when asked the root of the team’s struggles to score at 5-on-5. “It seems like when we’re around the front of the net, at least one guy, we’re getting some second and third chances.
“A lot of times we don’t have someone there we’re sort of playing on the perimeter or flying by the front of the net,” he added. “And most times, the goalie’s going to stop pucks like that.”
That’s exactly what Mrazek (36 saves) did Friday, continuing his spectacular play from January (3-1-1, 1.69 goals-against average, .940 save percentage) into February.
Darling, for his part, made several good saves but was also beat twice on his glove side and allowed at least four goals for the fourth time in his last seven starts. It was his first start in nearly two weeks, having taken a back seat to Cam Ward as the No. 1 goalie.
“I thought he was real good, to be honest with you,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said of Darling. “I thought we gave up too much in transition. Their transition from defense to offense was very quick, and we gave up a lot of odd-man rushes.”
That was led by Helm, whose elite speed gave Carolina fits all night.
The Hurricanes most certainly agreed that the Wings’ speed was too much to match, as they told CarolinaHurricanes.com’s Mike Smith…
The Hurricanes brought a three-game winning streak into tonight’s match-up and, even though they didn’t have to travel for the second half of this back-to-back set, they certainly looked like the more tired hockey club against a Red Wings squad that was resting and ready.
“They were hungrier than us, for sure. They were the better team. We were trying to claw our way back and get some momentum,” Jordan Staal said. “In the end, we didn’t have enough.”
Detroit had the jump on the Canes for seemingly the entire game, and though the Canes recorded the first goal of the game, once the Red Wings found the back of the net once and then grabbed the lead, they were able to shut it down from there.
“I thought they were the quicker team to start the game. They had a lot of jump, and it seemed like they were beating us to a lot of pucks,” Stempniak said. “Once they got the lead, they shut things down pretty effectively, and we were never able to get more than one.”
“They were quick tonight. They won a lot of foot races, a lot of loose puck battles that they got to first and made us defend,” head coach Bill Peters said. “I think they established body position a lot all over the ice, so we were second to a lot of the battles.”
Peters and the Hurricanes felt that Darren Helm’s 3rd period insurance goal was in fact the turning point of the game, as noted by NHL.com’s Kurt Dusterberg…
With Detroit leading 3-1 and Helm about to exit the penalty box, Luke Glendening blocked a shot by Carolina forward Teuvo Teravainen. Helm got to the loose puck in the neutral zone, and then beat goalie Scott Darling with a slap shot from the low slot at 13:48 to make it 4-1.
“I think I made that move because I’ve struggled putting the puck in the net by making moves,” said Helm, who ended a 15-game goal drought dating to Dec. 5. “I dumbed it down a little bit, and it worked out.”
The Hurricanes had two shots on goal and Justin Faulk hit the post with Helm in the penalty box.
“Would have been nice to get one there,” coach Bill Peters said. “I don’t think it was the turning point in the game, to be honest with you. We could have been a little more diligent throughout the game, from the first period on.”
And this isn’t something we’ve associated with the Red Wings’ defense lately:
“It’s hard to win scoring one goal, no matter what. They’re a good team. They play a very structured game. They’ve got defensemen who are smart. They gave us the outside a lot and didn’t allow us to penetrate the middle.” — Hurricanes forward Lee Stempniak
The Associated Press’s recap will serve as our pivot point between the Hurricanes and Red Wings‘ perspectives:
“We gave up too much in transition,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. “Their transition from defense to offense is very quick and we gave up a lot of odd man rushes and a lot of shots, and on those there was quality also. I don’t think we managed the puck as good as we needed to.”
Aho’s power-play goal midway through the first opened the scoring. Justin Faulk‘s slap shot from the blue line nicked Mrazek’s glove and fluttered over the Detroit netminder’s back, and Aho knocked it in the air and into the net.
Helm and the Red Wings took over from there.
DeKeyser tied it before the period was out. Aided by a screen from Frans Nielsen, DeKeyser took a pass from Helm and ripped a slap shot that beat Darling to his blocker side.
Daley put Detroit ahead 5:06 into the second. Helm came up with a Hurricanes turnover deep in his own zone, raced down the ice and dropped a pass back to Daley at the point and he wound up and fired a vicious slap shot over Darling’s glove.
Nyquist provided insurance in the third when he snapped a wrister over Darling’s glove with 12:15 remaining.
Helm added the final blow when he came out of the penalty box and picked up a loose puck at center ice for a breakaway, firing a slapper over Darling right in front of his face.
“I just let it rip,” Helm said. “I’ve struggled putting the puck in the net by making moves. I dumbed it down a little bit and it worked out.”
Helm told the Free Press’s Helene St. James that the Red Wings’ speed is their chief asset:
“We can be a really fast team and a very effective team when we use that speed,” Helm said after a three-point outing. “Obviously we haven’t shown all of that all season, but the last couple games, this game especially, I thought we did a good job using our speed to our advantage and getting pucks towards the net and creating chances. We just have to keep rolling, keep getting these two points, especially in these games here.”
The Wings are six points away from the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“That can swing quickly,” Danny DeKeyser said after scoring second goal of the season. Trevor Daley and Gustav Nyquist had the other goals.
Coach Jeff Blashill wouldn’t reveal his starting goaltender for Saturday’s game at Florida, but there’s a good chance it’s Petr Mrazek again. He turned away 36 shots Friday, including stopping Joakim Nordstrom on a shorthanded breakaway. Mrazek is 4-0-1 his last five starts.
“I feel like when I see the puck well then it’s way easier to battle and stop the puck,” he said. “I worked during the practices when I didn’t have much time during games and tried to stay focused.”
One stretch in particular stood out for Mrazek.
“Very important was the second penalty in the third period,” he said. “Eight minutes left, 3-1, and we spend two minutes in (their) zone and great job by guys.”
As the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted, the Wings don’t believe that they’re completely out of the playoff picture yet…
Friday’s 4-1 victory over Carolina put the Red Wings within six points of tying Philadelphia for the second wild-card spot (56-50 points), seven from passing the Flyers.
There are three teams ahead of the Red Wings (21-21-8, 50 points) – Carolina (56), New York Rangers (55) and New York Islanders (55) — all playing mediocre hockey the past couple weeks. Suddenly, if the Red Wings can continue this post-All-Star break surge, who knows?
“Obviously there’s still some work to do but six points, that can swing pretty quick in today’s game with the scheduling,” said Danny DeKeyser, who had one of the Red Wings’ goals. “You just have to keep grinding it out and get points. Just keep playing the way we are and hopefully it works out for us. We have to keep beating teams like we did tonight that are ahead of us in the standings. It helps.”
Goaltender Petr Mrazek continued his turnaround Friday with 36 saves, and the Red Wings continue to get offense from the back end with DeKeyser and Trevor Daley scoring goals, and Gustav Nyquist and Darren Helm (who also had two assists) added third-period insurance goals.
The Red Wings had 38 shots on net, another busy night from that perspective, and looked faster than the usually quick Hurricanes.
From start to finish, it was one of the more competitive and effective, Red Wings wins this season.
“It was as complete effort as we’ve had in my opinion,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Just the effort, in all facets of the game. The compete level, the hungry at the net. It was as hungry as we’ve been at the net. But it has replicated on a consistent basis.”
Among DetroitRedWings.com’s Dana Wakiji’s “Trending” recap’s notes:
Trevor Daley: Blashill said after the morning skate that one area where the Wings can get more shots is from their defense corps. Daley took that to heart last game, backhanding a shot that beat San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones. That was one a little bit lucky but there was no luck involved at 5:06 of the second period. Helm found Daley in the slot and Daley ripped a shot into the top right corner over the glove of Carolina goaltender Scott Darling, who was making his first career start against the Wings. Daley pumped his first in celebration, a celebration worthy of Tomas Tatar. It marked Daley’s fifth goal of the season in 45 games. He had five goals in 56 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.
Quotable: “That’s big, too. That’s one thing that we want to be better at, get the D involved more. But it helps when we get out of our end quicker. That’s when the D can join us. If we spend 30 seconds or more in our own end, it’s harder for the D to have energy to join the rush.” – Zetterberg
Quotable II: “Two areas I thought were easy ways to create more offense – one was shooting the puck and the other was the D-men getting involved more in the offense. We haven’t produced enough points from our back end and I think we have the ability to. To have that start to show is a big thing for us. If we can get them to continue to produce and continue to be active off the rush and continue to be active in the O-zone, continue to shoot pucks, that’s our best chance to create more offense.” – Blashill
Highlights: NHL.com posted a 3:18 highlight clip…
The Hurricanes’ website posted a 6:35 clip of comments from Aho, Staal and coach Peters;
The Hurricanes’ PR website posted audio clips of Aho, Staal, Lee Stempniak and coach Peters’ post-game remarks, as well as a clip of coach Blashill’s locker room scrum:
Fox Sports Detroit posted John Keating’s post-game interview with Petr Mrazek…
The Detroit News posted a 15-image gallery;
WRAL posted a 33-image gallery;
ESPN posted a 15-image gallery;
Here’s the Game Summary…
And the Event Summary:
Final shot attempts were 68-62 Carolina.
Red Wings-Panthers set-up: The 21-21-and-8 Red Wings will play a team hot on their heels when they face the 21-22-and-6 Florida Panthers this evening (7:00 PM on FSD Plus/FS Florida/97.1 FM).
Florida sits 2 points in arrears of Detroit in the Eastern Conference and Wild Card standings, and Florida heads into this game having won 2 straight games, including a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
Absent a Panthers practice on Friday, I have three “tidbits” to share with you, starting with a set of notes from FloridaPanthers.com’s Peter Rossi:
The Panthers went on a two-game road trip straight out of the gate after their All-Star break, and so far they have not disappointed. The Cats picked up two crucial wins against the Islanders and Buffalo in their race to claw back into the playoff picture. Rookie goaltender Harri Sateri picked up his first two career wins on the trip, and the Panthers have benefited from tight defense and timely goal scoring from their blueline.
A three-game homestand begins February 3rd against the Detroit Red Wings. Come out to BB&T Center to cheer on the Cats as they continue their playoff push.
The Sun-Sentinel’s Matthew DeFranks is the only beat writer consistently covering the Panthers these days, and he penned a meaty Wings-Panthers game preview…
Scouting report: The Panthers return home to host Detroit after opening the unofficial second half with a pair of road wins — at the Islanders on Tuesday and at Buffalo on Thursday night. The two wins were goaltender Harri Sateri’s first of his NHL career and he’s performed admirably since both Roberto Luongo and James Reimer landed on injured reserve. In three starts, Sateri has a .937 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average. … Saturday’s game will be the final one of the season against Detroit. The Panthers are 1-1-1 against the Red Wings this season, most recently suffering a 4-2 loss on Jan. 5. Florida (21-22-6, 48 points) will complete its season series against Detroit before it even plays one game against division foe Boston. … The Red Wings entered Friday tied with the Panthers for fourth place in the Atlantic Division, prior to their road game at Carolina. Detroit is 3-1-2 on the second night of back-to-backs this season. … Reimer (pulled groin) is expected to be out for at least four more days. Luongo (lower-body) could return to practice soon, but hasn’t played since Dec. 4. Jamie McGinn (upper-body) has missed the last two games.
And the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted the following:
Red Wings at Panthers
Faceoff: 7 p.m., Saturday, BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.
Outlook: The Panthers (21-22-6, 48 points) are keeping pace with the Red Wings in the middle of the Atlantic Division…Florida is 4-5-1 in its last 10 games, but have won two in a row…LW Jonathan Huberdeau (49 points) and C Vincent Trocheck (18 goals) lead offensively.