Losers of three consecutive games, the Carolina Hurricanes desperately needed to get themselves back into the win category on Monday night against a Detroit Red Wings club that finds themselves at the very bottom of the NHL standings.
Despite the game being a lot closer than it probably should have been, the Canes went into Little Caesars Arena and picked up a Hot-N-Ready win to improve to 5-3-1 on the season.
The Hurricanes were nothing short of dominant in the first period. And even that might be an understatement.
The Canes outshot the Wings 21-6 in the opening frame and had a 74.42% corsi share at 5-on-5. It wasn’t a 5-on-5 goal that got Carolina on the board, though.
For just the second time this season (excluding Teuvo Teravainen’s ENG against the Rangers), the Hurricanes scored a power play goal. Justin Williams drew Detroit’s high penalty killer and delivered a slick behind-the-back feed to Justin Faulk, who wired home his first goal of the season to give the road team a 1-0 lead.
A power play goal!! Justin Faulk with a long-range missile that beats Jimmy Howard. Great pass by Justin Williams and a great job by Ferland and Zykov to make things difficult for Howard. 1-0 Canes. pic.twitter.com/ZLnSKvbYn9— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 23, 2018
That goal came at a very good time for the Hurricanes. They had already failed to convert on a power play earlier in the first period, and another unsuccessful man advantage right before the end of the period could have set the tone for bad night in the Motor City.
The Hurricanes road that wave of energy into the middle frame, where they continued to dictate the pace of play and control puck possession. That strong play led to another power play, and they were able to take advantage once again.
This was an excellent passing sequence from the Canes’ new-look top power play unit. Sebastian Aho fed the puck down low to Valentin Zykov, and the Russian rookie one-touched an Elias Lindholm-esque pass from the goal line out to Micheal Ferland who ripped home his sixth goal of the season and extended his goal-scoring streak to four consecutive games.
Aho’s assist put him at 10 assists and 14 points through nine games. He extended his point streak to nine games to start the season.
The Hurricanes managed to triple their 2018-19 power-play-goals-on-actual-goalies total against the Red Wings on Monday.
The Red Wings had a small push toward the end of the second period, thanks in part to a hooking penalty from Andrei Svechnikov, but the Canes’ penalty kill was able to keep Detroit’s top-ten NHL power play off the board and finished the game with a perfect four-for-four outing.
After getting outshot 36-12 through two periods on home ice, the Wings came out with a lot more fight in the final frame. They got a number of quality chances early, but Petr Mrazek was excellent when he needed to be.
But with 8:00 to go in the third period, the home team got on the board and made things interesting. Thomas Vanek found Andreas Athanasiou on the 2-on-1 rush. Mrazek had no chance of making the save and, just like that, it was a game again.
Detroit didn’t tail off, by any means. In the third period, they outshot Carolina 9-3 after getting absolutely pummeled on the shot clock through 40 minutes. They kept their foot on the gas and, with time running out, it looked like they were going to tie the game.
Somehow, they didn’t, though.
UMMMMM... The puck somehow stayed out of the net!? Petr Mrazek and company just performed some kind of magic act to keep the score at 2-1. pic.twitter.com/xBtyYwms7R— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 23, 2018
Mrazek, Faulk, and Calvin de Haan combined for a series of miraculous saves to keep the Hurricanes in front.
A late delay of game penalty from Dougie Hamilton gave the Canes another scare, but with Howard on the bench for a sixth skater for the Red Wings, Jaccob Slavin took the game on his shoulders and single-handedly put the game away.
JACCOB SLAVIN. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! Shorthanded ENG thanks to an AMAZING effort from Slavin here. Wow... pic.twitter.com/OiWVJPjD3U— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) October 23, 2018
Slavin took the puck from his own goal line, threw off a Red Wing forward, deked his way to the neutral zone, and delivered a perfect backhanded pass to Jordan Martinook, who put the puck into the empty net and secured a road victory for the Hurricanes.
Monday night’s tilt in Mo Town was big for Carolina. They had lost three consecutive games in regulation after an unexpected four-game win streak. They needed to bounce back against a team that they are, very much, better than. Thankfully, they got the result they wanted and earned.
There are still some concerns. They didn’t manage to get any even-strength goals and actually got outscored 1-0 at 5-on-5 by a team that entered play as the worst team in that category. The Hurricanes, undoubtedly, earned the win with how they played but, in a lot of ways, they were lucky to win given how close things were down the stretch.
They have to figure out a way to convert these lofty shot totals to actual goals that win hockey games. That’s not a new issue for this team, but it’s an issue they have to get fixed.
For now, though, I think they will be satisfied with taking the two points. It was an excellent effort on the road, and former Red Wing Petr Mrazek had a marvelous performance in his old stomping grounds. A big positive is that the Canes had two power play goals and finished +3 with their special teams, if you include their shorthanded goal during the 6-on-4 sequence in the final two minutes. It’s the first time this season that Carolina has finished with a positive goal-differential with their power play and penalty kill.
They absolutely need their special teams to be better, and tonight was a good start.
The Hurricanes will get another string of off days before hosting the San Jose Sharks on Friday night. There will be some important practice days for Rod Brind’Amour and his team this week as they look to manufacture another win streak here as we near the end of October.