Cary, NC — Following a near franchise record-breaking win streak, the Red Wings handed the Canes a tough loss on Tuesday.
Game 1: Canes Make It 8 Straight, Down Red Wings 2-1
Alex Nedeljkovic missed his second career shutout with less than 10 seconds left in the game, but more importantly, the Canes beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to leapfrog back into first place in the Central/Discovery Division.
The Canes have a point on the Tampa Bay Lightning while the Lightning have played 1 fewer game.
First place is just for bragging rights at this point and the last half of the season should be fun watching the Canes, Lightning and Florida Panthers all battle it out for the semi-important first place at the end of the season.
Only Staal vs. Staal, No Svech vs. Svech
Coach Rod Brind’Amour constantly says there are no weak teams in the NHL. So, every game has to be approached with the mentality that the other team pays its players big bucks to win. In preparing for the next game, not thinking ahead is the only way to approach success.
The Red Wings are a fairly young team, and like every team, had a new mix of players on their roster from the last time the Canes played them 10 days earlier.
Dylan Larkin, Detroit’s young and talented captain was back for this game and unfortunately, Evgeny Svechnikov was sent to the Wings’ minor league team the day before the game so the second matchup of the Svech brothers didn’t take place.
The Canes were also missing Vincent Trocheck, Teuvo Teravainen, Petr Mrazek and Jake Gardiner. Gardiner who still has a lower-body injury cleared waivers earlier in the day so that move is one to keep an eye on.
Good chance that was to test the waters of any interest. The last time VP/GM Don Waddell put a player on waivers, that player cleared only to be traded shortly thereafter.
That’s just brilliant and if that happens again, Waddell needs to head to Washington to work on some budget issues on a bigger scale.
Fast, Tight Forechecking and Few Hits
The game was just as Roddy predicted — fast, end to end and with tight checking.
Detroit is about the same size as the Canes and with the game so fast, the number of registered hits was low with Detroit “dominating” with 11 while the Canes posted just 9 and none by the defensemen.
Jordan Staal once again won the initial drop of the puck but it was the Wings that got off the first shot, a wrister by Darren Helm that was easily blocked by Ned. Larkin is an excellent player that too often it appeared he had little support, forcing him to hold the puck for long periods of time that made defending slightly easier.
If the Detroit management improves the aggressiveness on the wings, it would go a long way in making this team better. Larkin did get off a couple of shots in the first, three forcing Ned to come up with saves.
The Canes had the edge on possession that allowed them to get off 12 shots on Jonathan Bernier who has been playing well with his last win a few days earlier over Tampa Bay.
Andrei Svechnikov snatched the puck at his own blue line and, with his speed, skated between 2 defenders, and faked to Bernier’s left then put the puck on his forehand. Flicking his wrists, he went for a shot to the stick side of the goalie that hit the upper shaft of Bernier’s stick, deflecting wide of the net.
This proved to be the closest scoring chance for either team in the period. The period ended with no score, the Canes getting off 12 shots to the Wings’ 9.
Second Period Starts with Early Opportunity
The Canes had an early scoring chance in the second that was just like a play in the Canes last game. With the puck deep in the Wings’ zone, Sebastian Aho had the puck between the faceoff circle and the blue area of the crease on the left side.
Being well covered and having no shot, Fishy passed off to Brock McGinn on the perimeter of the far circle. Ginner wound up and blasted a one-timer that unlike the last game, the keeper came up with a great save.
Shortly after the Wings were pressing in the Canes’ end when Brady Skjei got caught holding Michael Rasmussen. Every coach will always say after the goalie, it’s special teams that can sway the outcome of a game.
#1 Powerplay in the NHL
As of game time, the Canes powerplay was #1 in the NHL which is all due to the horrid tear the man advantage has had of late. The man down defense is 10th overall but 20th on the road which is a crazy way the NHL attempts to break down statistics of statistics.
Anytime a team’s powerplay percentage and PK percentage total over 100%, it’s a good sign. The Canes are at 114.6% with the PP at 32.2%, PK at 82.4%. As a reference, the Wings combined number is 81.7%. Many times the Canes PK has been over 82.4 but the PP number is in uncharted waters.
Hamilton Nets First Career Shortie
With the Wings on the first powerplay of the game, their set up in the first minute was pretty good, sharp passes and keeping the Canes moving. The Canes excel on the PK as once a player commits for a steal or block, the remaining 3 skaters adjust positions in anticipation of a pass or shot.
Late in the powerplay, Filip Zadina, taken in the same 2018 draft as Svech, made a poor judgment call in trying to force a pass through the center slot. Dougie Hamilton with his long reach and long stick, poked the puck clear of the zone, getting a step on Larkin.
Larkin caught Hamilton as Dougie slowed up, allowing Fishy to join the rush on the left for a passing option. When the play got to the top of the circles, Dougie eyed over to Fishy then Larkin went down to block the pass.
Hamilton toe dragged the puck and sent a hard wrister in for the first short-handed goal of his career.
Midway in the period Brett Pesce joined in the play deep in the Wings zone, was behind the net, faked going one way then decided to go around the net fooling Rasmussen who clipped Pesch across the face while trying to get his stick in position.
The Canes failed to capitalize on their only penalty of the game but certainly had their chances. Shortly after that penalty ended, the Canes Jesper Fast got called for an ever so soft hooking call on Larkin. The Canes killed off that penalty going 2 for 2 on the day as the third period was penalty-free.
Niederreiter Knots His 12th
The Canes once again had more possession in the second and, if anything, were getting frustrated by not scoring. Bernier is a good goalie but the Canes shot selection had much to do with the lack of hitting the back of the net.
After a brilliant save by Ned off a shot by Larkin, Jaccob Slavin scooped up the rebound, settled down, then passed to Fishy who skated from his end going diagonally across the ice into the Wings’ end.
Just as he crossed the blue line, Nino Niederreiter followed for a drop pass from Fishy. Nino carried the puck and must have seen an opening beside his defender. Two other Wings were in the slot area with no Canes as Fishy was down low in the corner.
Using his defender as a screen, he sent a hard shot around the right side defender to the far upper corner that Bernier would want back. Pretty goal that looks great when it goes in but if it doesn’t makes you question the shot.
Shutout Robbery in the Final Second
The Canes were playing both smart and with defensive responsibility for the remainder of the game. The Wings pulled Bernier with a little over 3 minutes to play—a smart move and the only way they had a chance to get back in the game.
Everything was looking good to preserve the shut out until 24 seconds left, Staal lost a pivotal faceoff in the Canes end. The Wings kept possession and with 9.4 seconds left, Anthony Mantha camped out in the far faceoff circle.
He flung the puck to the slot area that hit Fishy’s skate when he was 8’ above the net with the puck ricocheting in just past Ned’s leg to break the shutout. Tough break, but that’s hockey.
Sure Ned wanted the shutout but he and all the Canes really wanted the win and the all-important 2 points. Follow up match is Tuesday when the Canes could match a franchise-long 9 straight wins.
Game 2: Canes Lose Backend, 4-2
The Detroit Red Wings’ record may not show it, but as every Carolina Hurricane player and coach will tell you, “Detroit has a good team.”
Dylan Larkin carried the Wings to a 4-2 win over the Canes on the backend of the 2 game series in Motown. For the second time the Svechnikov brothers played against each other as Evgeny got called up from their farm team the day between the two games.
Jordan and Marc Staal went up against each other for the 58th time and had several hard battles in front of goalie Jonathan Bernier. While the Canes scored early and at one point took charge of the game, give credit to the Red Wings as they stayed with their game plan and won 4-2.
Canes Go on the Early Powerplay
Jordan Staal once again took the initial drop of the puck and once again, with skill and muscle, won the faceoff to allow the Canes to start their attack.
The first line kept the play deep in the Wings end with Andrei Svechnikov getting off the first shot, forcing Bernier to make a blocker save. The Canes’ second line continued with the pressure in the Wings’ end with relentless forechecking and cycling along the boards, forcing the Wings to chase the puck.
After a monstrous hit by Dougie Hamilton on Filip Hronek, the puch was freed for Martin Necas to pick up. Anthony Mantha slashed Necas on the gloves, giving the Canes an early powerplay.
While most of the first powerplay unit had just finished their shift, Rod Brind’Amour decided to start with them. Jordo won the first faceoff, drawing the puck back to Hamilton on the right point who settled the puck to set up the umbrella.
Sebastian Aho, Hamilton and Svech all played catch with Fishy finally taking a shot that Danny DeKeyser paid the price with a body block then sent the puck down to Canes keeper, James Reimer.
The teams switched units on the clear with Jake Bean passing up to Jesper Fast on the right-wing who rimmed the puck from the near board to the far boards.
Niederreither Sinks Powerplay Goal
Brett Pesce and Nino Niederreiter were among a 5 man scrum over the puck when Morgan Geekie managed to knock it free, skating away with the puck and passing up to Beaner.
Beaner settled the puck long enough to allow players to get in position, then passed it over to Jesper Fast on the right. Quickie carried the puck to the inside of the near circle, looked to the goal and saw El Nino had position on his defender.
Quickie sent a firm lob pass over his own defender’s stick directly onto Nino’s tape for an easy tip-in for the early 1-0 lead. A little over 20 seconds after the Canes goal, Haydn Fleury got called for interference, giving the Wings their first powerplay.
The Wings won the first faceoff on the powerplay, keeping the puck in the Canes zone. All of the passing was on the perimeter then Filip Zadina went between 2 defenders, putting a slick backhander on net that Reims sprawled to make the save. Nevertheless, Adam Erne was there to spank the puck into the open net before Reims was able to get back up.
Wings Answer Back, Gain 2-1 Lead
That message was Game On. At the 11:20 mark with the fourth line on the ice, Cedric Paquette got tangled with Marc Staal on the side of the crease with Staal going down.
As the play started up ice, Paquette used his gloves and his stick a few too many times and well after the play, drawing a penalty. The Wings won the faceoff and started to toss as much rubber towards the goal as possible.
Reims made 2 saves off Michael Rasmussen with Larkin then stepping up and taking 2 shots with Brady Skjei blocking both.
Hronek took another quick shot that Reims blocked before Larkin picked up the rebound and passed over to Erne who slapped home his second of the game, giving the Wings the 2-1 lead.
Necas, Aho Tie it Up with a Sweet Pass
Jordo won the opening faceoff of the second period and the Canes went on the attack. With decent passing in the Wings’ zone, Skjei took a shot that Bernier kicked to the corner with the Wings getting the rebound.
They settled the puck, allowing both teams to make wholesale line changes.
With the puck in the Canes end, Hamilton stole the puck near the blue line then passed up to Fishy for a quick swim upstream to the Wings’ end. Fishy passed up to Martin Necas who used his wheels to go up the far side.
Necas cut through the center in the process and made a nifty move to get by a defender, stopping on a dime on the near circle perimeter. Then he made a phenomenal cross-ice pass to Fishy all in the far circle who was cocked and ready.
He unloaded a hard one-timer that banged off the underside of the crossbar to knot the game at 2 apiece. That goal seemed to be a turning point in the game as the Canes started to take control.
Only one problem — the Wings weren’t folding. They continued their forechecking and Larkin was slowly taking control of the game.
Tricky Calls in the Faceoff Circle
Both teams had a couple of penalties in the period with one really a tricky tack penalty that could be called on every faceoff. The hash marks near the faceoff dot and the circle have meaning that players are to not cross either.
On every faceoff, players cheat and normally if a player on the perimeter comes in too close, the linesman will direct him to go back. This game saw more faceoff violations than normal. In fact, it was rare if faceoff was done with the first set of players facing off.
On one faceoff, Svech creeped in too fast and got the very rare call for a violation which is a penalty.
Fabbri Snags the 3-2 Red Wings Lead
In the 13th minute, Larkin really showed why he is an elite player. After picking up the puck in his end, Larkin skated through all 3 zones with great speed, going between 2 defenders first at the blue line then down low.
Skjei forced Larkin wide but he made a sweet drop pass to Robby Fabbri who was inexcusably open to slap it past Reimer for the 3-2 lead.
The Canes dropped a game-high 19 shots on Bernier with only the one earlier goal to show for it as the Canes play at best could be called loose that Roddy probably addressed during the intermission.
Canes Win Streak Ends
For the third time, Jordo won the period’s initial faceoff.
The Canes needed to get back to their game as while this wasn’t a real physical game, hits were just 10 for the Canes and 12 for the Wings. But, several hits were memorable.
Warren Foegele got crunched to the boards on a borderline but legal hit that knocked him silly and took him a few moments to get composed enough to get up. He returned to the bench then took himself out of the game back in the first period.
Paquette surprisingly only had one hit while Quickie led the Canes with only 2. The Wings’ forechecking was more frustrating than effective but either way, it threw the Canes off their normal game.
The Canes were able to get off 11 shots in the period but few really challenged Bernier. Roddy pulled Reims with 2 minutes to go and the Canes had their chances, but Bernier and the Wings defense was strong.
Late in the game, Hamilton sent a bomb that went wide of the net. Fishy got hit just as he was about to get the puck in the corner, allowing Hronek to pick up the puck and fling it high in the air, clearing the zone and sliding 198’ for his first goal of the year.
Just like that, scoring was closed and the Wings snapped the Canes’ 8-game win streak. The next series is back at PNC Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets with the John Tortorella and Patrik Laine storyline.
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