The Detroit Red Wings hope to snap a 3-game losing streak as they host the Carolina Hurricanes this evening (7:00 PM EST on FSD/FS Carolinas/97.1 FM).
It is assumed that the Wings will have Mike Green back in the lineup as the Wings open a set of back-to-back games, with the Wings heading to New York to play the Rangers on Sunday.
Our friends from Carolina are going to be in a bit of a foul mood, and fresh off a Friday night loss: the 27-24-and-1 Hurricanes find themselves in an 0-3-and-1 stretch, with their latest loss coming in the form of a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On Friday night, absent Jordan Staal (due to family issues), the Hurricanes lost big time to the Penguins, as noted by the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander:
Even with Staal the Canes might have struggled against the Pens (36-23-4), who have won six straight and are 7-0-1 in their last eight games. With each passing week, the Pens are looking very much like a team that could win a third straight Stanley Cup, with scoring balance throughout the lines, an active defense and goalie Matt Murray looking sharp in net.
Phil Kessel had two goals and an assist, and Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin a goal and two assists apiece for the Pens. Sidney Crosby scored, as did defenseman Olli Maatta, and Murray did his part with 27 saves.
“They capitalized on our mistakes,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “We made enough mistakes and they make you pay. When you make mistakes against this team it ends up in the back of the net. And that’s what they did.”
Despite the loss, the Canes (27-24-10) remained one point out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference with the NHL trade deadline coming up Monday. Carolina plays at Detroit on Saturday and Peters said he did not think Staal would make the trip.
The game, played before a lively crowd of 18,182 at PNC Arena, was all but decided after the first 30 minutes. The Pens led 4-1 as the Riley Sheahan line with Kessel and Guentzel on the wings dominated most of their shifts.
When the score reached 6-1 in the third, Canes goalie Cam Ward smashed his paddle against the cage, then gave the handle a fling in disgust, earning a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
“It was a little too easy to access our net at times,” Peters said.
There’s no indication as to whether Ward will play back-to-back games, and we probably won’t know who starts for Carolina until closer to game time as they’re unlikely to hold a morning skate.
Among CarolinaHurricanes.com’s Michael Smith’s “takeaways” from Friday’s game:
Even with Staal out, though, the Hurricanes spent the night misfiring in all three zones. Execution wasn’t at the level it needed to be, especially against a team riding a five-game winning streak and surging in the standings.
“There was really nothing good about it,” Justin Williams said. “The storyline is they outworked us and showed us they wanted it more tonight. That’s frustrating because we’ve got to be better.”
“It was a tough game for us,” Teravainen said. “They scored a lot of goals and got the momentum. We never really came back. We didn’t fight enough. It can’t happen.”
“I thought they capitalized on our mistakes,” Peters said. “When you make mistakes against this team, it ends up in the net. That’s what they did.”
On the heels of a game like this, it might be a good thing for the Hurricanes in that they get right back at it less than 24 hours from now in Detroit, another chance to end what is now a four-game winless streak.
“Now we can get right back tomorrow,” Teravainen said. “It’s going to be a huge game for us.”
“The good thing about it is you get to redeem yourself tomorrow,” Williams said.
According to Smith, the Hurricanes don’t expect to have Staal in their lineup on Saturday, so the team recalled Lucas Wallmark from the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.
NHL.com’s Kurt Dusterberg also recapped Friday night’s game…
Teuvo Teravainen scored for the Hurricanes (27-24-10), who have lost four in a row (0-3-1). Carolina remains one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Cam Ward made 33 saves.
“The storyline is they outworked us and they showed they wanted it more tonight,” Hurricanes forward Justin Williams said. “Our response was poor, very poor. That’s frustrating because we’ve got to be better, and certainly I’m at the top of that list.”
Guentzel started the scoring with his 20th of the season at 13:36 of the first period when Kessel moved into the slot and found Guentzel for an easy tap-in.
Olli Maatta scored his fifth of the season 46 seconds into the second period with a wrist shot inside the near post to make it 2-0.
Teravainen cut the lead to 2-1 at 2:05. He stopped Elias Lindholm‘s shot from the high slot with his skate and shot it under the crossbar.
Kessel scored two goals 2:14 apart to put the Penguins ahead 4-1. He scored his 25th goal when he took a cross-ice pass from Guentzel and sent a hard wrist shot from the left face-off circle at 6:11. Kessel then finished a short pass from Riley Sheahan at the front of the net that trickled over the goal line at 8:25.
The Penguins took a 5-1 lead on Crosby’s power-play goal at 9:12 of the third period. With an assist on Crosby’s goal, Kris Letang tied Paul Coffey for the most assists by a defenseman in Penguins history (332).
Malkin extended the lead to 6-1 at 12:42.
And NHL.com posted a highlight clip from the game as well…
They played without physical center Jordan Staal, who missed the game because of a family concern — and his absence certainly was felt against Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and the rest of the Penguins’ lineup.
“The storyline is, they outworked us and they showed us they wanted it more tonight,” said forward Justin Williams, an alternate captain with Staal out. “That’s frustrating, because we’ve got to be better, and certainly I’m at the top of that list.”
And the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander’s late-breaking notebook:
The Canes have been outscored 17-5 in the past four games. They’re 0-10 on the power play. Their execution was amiss against the Pens, who aggressively forechecked and forced mistakes.
“They were on us,” Peters said.
Despite the D-zone struggles, despite the woeful lacking of scoring, despite a suddenly quiet power play, the Hurricanes landed in Detroit one point out of a wild-card playoff spot. That’s where they stand with 21 games remaining.
“We’ve got to keep our foot on the gas,” Pesce said. “We know what’s at stake and one game is not going to change how we feel about that and try to mess with our confidence.”
STATS’ game preview will serve as our pivot point between the Hurricanes and Red Wings’ perspectives:
Thursday marked the ninth time this season that the Wings have lost 3-2 and the 31st time in 60 games that they’ve put the puck in the net less than three times.
Included in that group of setbacks was a 3-1 loss to the Hurricanes when Carolina last visited Detroit on Jan. 20, and Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg recognizes his team’s Achilles heel.
“Goals,” Zetterberg said. “That’s basically what it is. I think we’re going into the tough areas. We’re going there for the rebounds. We’ve had our fair chances to put it away, but we can’t find a way to do it.”
The Hurricanes (27-24-10), who fell 6-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, aren’t expected to be active at the trade deadline.
“With our group, the way it currently is, we can get in,” Carolina coach Bill Peters told the Charlotte News & Observer. “If there’s some additions to it, then that’ll help.”
A 6-2-1 spurt moved the Hurricanes into a wild-card playoff position in the Eastern Conference, but that was followed by an 0-3-1 skid in their last four games that has dropped them a point out of the final wild-card spot.
The Red Wings got some good news on Friday as Anthony Mantha will be able to play through what is most likely a fractured cheekbone suffered during Thursday’s defeat to Buffalo, as noted by the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
Anthony Mantha will need to wear a full face shield after suffering a slight facial fracture after getting hit in the face during Thursday’s game with a puck.
“Their defenseman tried to clear a puck out and it caught me in the face,” Mantha said.
The injury is similar to one Justin Abdelkader had earlier this season, with Abdelkader also needing to wear the shield for a period of time.
Mantha feels there will be an adjustment period to the shield.
“It’s difficult,” Mantha said. “When you look down to try to find the puck between the legs, the lower part is kind of weird. But you get used to it.”
The Red Wings had a solid practice on Friday: Mike Green (neck) practiced; Tomas Tatar and Justin Abdelkader (“maintenance”) did not, but both are expected to play on Saturday, as MLive’s Ansar Khan noted:
Green practices: Defenseman Mike Green returned to practice after sitting out a couple of days due to a neck injury. Blashill said Green felt good but his status for Saturday’s game against Carolina at Little Caesars Arena will be determined at game time. (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).
Green, who has missed four games, remains a viable trade possibility before Monday’s deadline. Blashill, however, said he has no plans to keep him out of the lineup while waiting for a potential move.
Tatar, Abdelkader OK: Tomas Tatar and Abdelkader didn’t practice Friday but both will play Saturday, Blashill said. Tatar was shaken up on a hit during his breakaway in overtime but returned for another shift.
Goaltending plans: Blashill didn’t reveal his goaltending plans for the weekend but acknowledged Jimmy Howard plays well at Madison Square Garden, where the Red Wings will face the New York Rangers on Sunday. Howard might start both games.
“I certainly believe Jared Coreau is a good goalie,” Blashill said. “Jimmy Howard is a proven very good NHL goalie. I’m going to put the lineup out there that gives us the best chance to win right now. We got life in us, we got fight in us, so I’m not looking at it from a standpoint of (Coreau’s) personal development. I’m looking at it as who do I put out there to give us the best chance to win.”
The Free Press’s Helene St. James noted that the Wings really are still talking about winning as many games as possible…
The fact Sunday’s game is at the New York Rangers may influence Blashill’s decisions on who starts in net Saturday. Jimmy Howard, a native of upstate New York, excels at Madison Square Garden (2-3-2, 1.58 goals-against average and 0.950 save percentage career numbers at MSG; 6-3-3, 1.73 GAA, 0.950 SV percentage overall vs. Rangers).
Does that mean Jared Coreau, called up in the wake of the Petr Mrazek trade, could start against the Canes? It doesn’t sound like it.
“We’ll make those decisions tomorrow,” Blashill said. “But certainly we’re thinking about past the weekend.
“We’re trying to win hockey games. I certainly have belief that Jared Coreau is a good goalie. Jimmy Howard is a proven very good NHL goalie. I’m going to put the lineup out there that gives us the best chance to win right now.
“We got life in us, we got fight in us. I’m fully aware Jimmy plays great at Madison Square Garden. I’m also aware that Carolina is a team that we have to track down in order to make the playoffs.”
Blashill has used the same goalie in back-to-back games before, most recently last weekend.
And if Mike Green plays his last game as a Red Wing sometime this weekend, Blashill made sure that the media understood that the Wings’ coach respects the heck out of #25:
Defenseman Mike Green practiced with the team Friday and is considered a game-time decision for Saturday.
“He skated today. He felt good, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Blashill said.
Green is the team’s fourth-leading scorer with six goals among his 29 points.
Green has been the subject of many trade rumors as his contract expires at the end of this season. If he does end up leaving, Green will have left a mark on some of the young players on the Wings.
“Mike’s work ethic and his will to win has rubbed off on any young players that’s been in this locker room,” Blashill said. “He’s been excellent. His competitiveness has been excellent. I’m not sure that everybody totally understood. Maybe the perception wasn’t quite that. Reality is he comes to work, comes to compete every day. I’ve been real impressed. So that rubs off on everybody in the locker room.
“I also think when you’re trying to get your D to jump in the play, get your D to be part of the offense, it’s great to have an example of it. And he’s been a great example of how you push the puck up the ice, how you join the play, how you try to push for offense, in what is today’s kind of NHL defenseman. So, I think he’s been a good example of that as well.”
Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff speculated regarding Green’s most probable destination:
Talks that had heated up between the Wings and the Tampa Bay Lightning appear to be cooled off, now that the Lightning are all-in with their efforts to acquired two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators.
The trade deadline is often about lining up the dominoes and waiting for them to fall, and the biggest domino is the defensive scheme of things is Karlsson. Until he is dealt or teams determine that the price is too high and move on, everything else tends to be put on hold. The Lightning are also kicking the tires on Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers, so that trade may also have to be completed before it’s Green’s turn.
The Washington Capitals, Green’s old team, could still come into play here if the Lightning are out. There’s also been talk of the Toronto Maple Leafs, though Leafs coach Mike Babcock has never offered any indication that he’s a fan of Green’s work, leaving him off both of the Canadian Olympic teams he coached. There’s even talk that the Vegas Golden Knights could be in the market for an upgrade in the skill of their back end.
In the multimedia department, the Red Wings posted clips of Blashill and Mantha speaking with the media…
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 23, 2018
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 23, 2018
As did the Free Press’s Helene St. James: