Red Wings-Hurricanes wrap-up: Wings drop a frustrating game to the shorthanded Canes

The Detroit Red Wings lost a 5-3 decision to the undermanned Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, and the Red Wings lost in tremendously frustrating fashion, due to a combination of self-inflicted wounds in the form of defensive mistakes and some shaky goaltending by Alex Nedeljkovic with his former team, which played with only 16 skaters due to COVID and cap concerns.

This was frustrating for several reasons:

For the second time in a row (the loss in St. Louis on December 9th was the first), the Red Wings surrendered a sloppy two points to a team that was short skaters, and surrendered a “first goal to a young kid” (this time, Jack Drury; last time, Nathan Walker x3) on top of it;

For the fricking 11th time out of 15 road games (Detroit has already played 30 times this season, 15 at Little Caesars Arena, and 15 away from LCA), the Red Wings’ play dropped considerably on individual and collective bases in terms of consistency, attention to detail, general confidence and especially fit and finish, dropping Detroit to 4-10-and-1 away from the Pizzarena (where Detroit has 10 of its 14 wins);

And for the fourth time this month (the Wings are 0-and-3 on the road, and gave up a stinker to Nashville back on the 7th at LCA), the officiating was spurious, affording the opponent chances that the Red Wings did not have. The gullibility of the linesmen on faceoffs and icings alone (Detroit won 40% of the sixty faceoffs dropped on Thursday) was infuriating; the lack of “fit and finish” on the officials’ part when it came to cross-checks, hooks, holds, hacks and whacks…

It was sure a “road game” in that sense of the term, too.

But the Red Wings can only blame themselves for the 5-3 loss, and attempt to move forward as they play three more times (1 of which is on the road) before Christmas, and 6 more times (3 on the road, in total) before the end of 2021.

The relentless condensed Olympic Year schedule isn’t going to let up, regardless of whether players actually go to the Olympics, and the Wings need to take as many lessons as they can out of their games, focus on reassessing and implementing their lessons during the learning sessions that are practices, and then they’ve gotta “move on to the next one.”

For the Hurricanes, who did indeed skate with 16 skaters due to salary-cap related reasons, and without six of their regular players, including Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov, due to COVID protocols, Thursday’s game will be one to remember, as they told’s Kurt Dusterberg:

Nino Niederreiter‘s second goal broke a third-period tie, and the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-3 at PNC Arena on Thursday.

Jack Drury scored in his NHL debut, and Frederik Andersen made 23 saves for the Hurricanes (20-7-1), who have won five of their past six. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jesper Fast, Martin Necas and Teuvo Teravainen each had two assists.

The Hurricanes played with six skaters, including leading scorer Sebastian Aho, in NHL COVID-19 protocol, and three players on recall from Chicago of the American Hockey League. 

“Guys gutted it out, there’s no doubt about it,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “That was tough being shorthanded there. Obviously, all the guys we had to bring in did a real nice job.”

Niederreiter scored the game-winning goal on a wrist shot that went in off the right post for a 4-3 lead just 18 seconds into the third period.

“It was the same attitude right from the beginning of the game, to create chances and get some pucks to the net,” Niederreiter said. “It was a great play by Necas getting it out, and I had a chance to do the rest.”

Drury gave Carolina a 3-2 lead with 1:20 remaining in the period. He took a pass from Kotkaniemi and shot from the high slot before scoring on his own rebound.

“I was thinking about making a pass at first, then I thought, shoot it,” Drury said. “Once I was driving [to] the net, I wasn’t thinking anything; just kind of instinctively react.”

The Associated Press’s recap continues the Hurricanes’ narrative

Drury knocked in a rebound of his own shot and the goal was the last of five scores in the first period, which ended with Carolina leading 3-2.

”I think it feels good for everyone to get that win,” Drury said. ”If we don’t get the win there, then it’s all kind of forgotten.”

Drury became the 23rd player in franchise history to score a goal in his first NHL game. He also joined his father, Ted Drury, as the third father-son duo to play for the organization. The elder Drury played for the Hartford Whalers 27 seasons ago.

The Hurricanes had averaged less than one first-period goal per game.

”We knew coming into this game the older guys have got to step up and lead by example,” Niederreiter said. ”I think we competed right from the get-go. We knew we got to fight through some adversity.”

And the respective coaches offered differing takes on the game:

”They find a way,” Brind’Amour said of his players. ”It’s one of those special wins. Special night obviously for Jack. There’s a lot of good memories in this game.”

Carolina was without team scoring leader Sebastian Aho, second-leading scorer Andrei Svechnikov, captain Jordan Staal, Ian Cole, Seth Jarvis and Steven Lorentz.

”They still have a lot of good players in the lineup,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. ”In the end, they got two points and we didn’t get two points.”’s Walt Ruff’s recap separates quotes from narrative, so we’ll go with these three quips…

Rod Brind’Amour on the players from Chicago coming up and making an immediate impact:

“That’s huge, right? You have to give management a ton of credit for this past offseason – looking and making sure we have those types of guys [in Chicago]. Guys that can play, guys that have experience. That’s been huge. Obviously Jack didn’t have that experience, but a good draft pick. Good job by management recognizing the type of players we need around here.”

Jack Drury on what he’ll remember most about the night in a few years:

“I think probably being there on the bench [during the first star interview with Abby Labar of Bally Sports South]. That was really cool. That was really special. It’s hard to put into words how that felt. Like I said though, if we don’t get the win there, then it’s all kind of forgotten. We battled through hard, got a couple great goals and it’s just great to get the win.”

Nino Niederreiter sharing his thoughts on what he was most impressed about from tonight’s victory:

“I think we competed right from the get-go. We stuck to our game plan. Obviously they got a couple fairly easy goals on us, so we knew we just had to stick with it and play as hard as we could. We needed to play simple and that’s why we got rewarded at the end.”

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill had a very different take on the game, as the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted:

“They still have a lot of good players in the lineup,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They’re missing good players, we’re missing good players (forwards Robby Fabbri and Mike Rasmussen, also to COVID protocol). We talked about the fact there is two points on the line. What happens when you’re short is a little like youth hockey and you end up playing your best players a lot. In the end, we didn’t get two points.”

For Blashill, it was also a matter of the Wings not playing well enough defensively.

“We gave up four goals and again, you can’t give up four and expect to win on the road,” he said. “We have to get that down. They were harder in the first period in front of the net. We didn’t give up a whole bunch after that in terms of chances at all. But again, we have to make sure you just can’t give up four on the road on a consistent basis and expect to win.” 

Nedeljkovic (9-7-3) was looking forward to facing his former team, and talked about the excitement of playing against the squad he carried into the playoffs last season.

Nedeljkovic has started nine of the last 11 games, grabbing control of the Wings’ starter’s job from Thomas Greiss after the two alternated earlier in the season. But despite a 28-save night, he couldn’t outplay Carolina’s Frederik Andersen (23 saves).

“Ned played good overall,” Blashill said. “The goal off the back wall is a hard one. The first one he’s not going to stop, it (the puck) goes right to the guy. The fourth one (Niederreiter’s 3-3 tiebreaker) is from the outside, but it’s a heck of a shot and every once in a while it goes in. I wasn’t concerned with Ned’s game.”

Dylan Larkin agreed with his coach:

“I don’t think there was any letdown of them having a short roster,” Larkin said. “If anything, it’s the opposite. Your eyes light up and go and grind because they’re going to be tired and we didn’t capitalize on that opportunity. We gave it to them, gave them goals and easy looks and they capitalized. They get on the power play to start the game and that’ll get them going. And from then on out, we gave it to them. It’s a frustrating feeling.”

Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen framed the Wings’ split personality at home versus away from home as follows…

It’s as if the Detroit Red Wings are two different teams. They are confident, aggressive and full of fight at home where they are 10-3-2. On the road, the Red Wings always seem to be chasing the game, hurried, mistake prone. That was true in Raleigh and now they are 4-10-1 on the road.

“We are looking for answers,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “We need a spark, to get into a groove. But it’s been really difficult and we don’t have an answer for it right now.”

Coach Jeff Blashill had an answer: “We can’t give up four on the road on a consistent basis and expect to win,” Blashill said.

And this is no overstatement:

The Red Wings were technically in a wild card spot today. But the Boston Bruins have games in hand. More importantly, the Red Wings are not playing like a playoff team.

Their inconsistency betrays them too often. Their goal-differential is -19. That’s not a playoff team. They have given up five or more goals in four of their last five games. That’s not a playoff team. They have averaged 2.4 goals per game over the past five. They can’t play like that and expect good things to happen.

They’ve shown improvement this season, but the consistency isn’t there yet. They are still rebuilding.

The Red Wings have played 30 games to Boston’s 26, and most teams in the NHL, including most of those ahead of the Wings in the standings, already have “games in hand” on Detroit.

It’s a nice feeling to be in the playoff mix in December, but I don’t know if it’s realistic for a team that both has a 4-10-and-1 record away from home and has a -19 goal differential to be thinking about playoff hockey at the end of April, when the NHL’s regular season schedule ends.

Anyway,’s Jonathan Mills will take us out with three quotes from Larkin and Blashill:

Larkin on Detroit’s response after Carolina scored three goals in the first period : “We gave it to them. We gave them goals. We gave them easy looks. They capitalized. They get one on the power play to start the game. That’ll get them going. From there on out, we gave it to them. It’s a disappointing feeling right now.”

Larkin on the Red Wings’ road struggles this season: “We’re looking for answers. We need a spark. We need to get in a groove. But it’s just been really difficult. We don’t have the answer for it right now. We play so sound at home. I think on the road, every night it’s a different story. It’s not always our effort. I feel like our effort is there on the road and at home, and it’s just a different story.”

Jeff Blashill on how Detroit and Carolina played without key players on Thursday night : “They’re missing good players. We’re missing good players. We talked about the fact that there’s two points on the line. What happens when you are short guys a little bit is that it’s like youth hockey. You end up playing your best players a lot.”


Highlights: Sportsnet posted an 8:20 highlight clip: posted a 9:01 highlight clip:

Post-game: The Hurricanes posted clips of Brett Pesce…

Jack Drury (on the bench)…

Nino Niederreiter…

And coach Rod Brind’Amour speaking with the media:

Bally Sports Detroit posted 3:19 of Dylan Larkin’s post-game remarks…

Trevor Thompson also spoke with coach Jeff Blashill:

Here’s just short of 3 minutes’ worth of Mickey Redmond, too:

The Free Press posted a 4:44 clip of Dylan Larkin’s post-game remarks…

And a 3:12 clip of coach Blashill’s post-game remarks:

The Red Wings posted a 3:01 clip of Larkin and Blashill’s post-game pressers:

Photos: The Free Press posted a 12-image gallery;

The Detroit News embedded an 11-image gallery in Ted Kulfan’s recap; posted a 67-image gallery.

Statistics: Here are the Game Summary and Event Summary:

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

One thought on “Red Wings-Hurricanes wrap-up: Wings drop a frustrating game to the shorthanded Canes”

  1. For this game Fabbri and Ras are not even close to being equal to Aho and (the Better Svech). One game Brain Fart from Blash.

    What is more worrisomes the perceived defensive woes, it really looks they play (or do not play at all) a different game on the Road. True, home ice advantage , plays a big part but a good home ice advantage can not carry a near total failure on the road.
    The answer lies in why they suck on the road. There are probably more than one reason. It is up to the Coach to figure out how to get the team to be playing better on the road. Defense is a reason for all games but is only one reason.

    I think a different game plan is needed by road teams, all sorts of different game plan changes required. It has to start with Blash making changes to the playing road games and getting players to play his system. I am sure they have played for Coaches with ideas for the road.

    Not ending the season with a better record on the Road will cost them a lower position in the standings and no playoffs.

    The Oilers are one example, they are in a losing streak. No run and gun, chances of winning are a problem)

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