March 2021 apparently isn’t just for the return of the NCAA basketball tournaments. It’s also the month of the Carolina Hurricanes, who topped the Red Wings 2-1 in Detroit Sunday night for their eighth straight win and a 7-0-0 mark this month.
The victory gave the Hurricanes their first eight-plus game winning streak since the 2008-09 season. It was also their 20th victory of the season, and Carolina is the first team in the league to 20 wins for the first time in franchise history.
Dougie Hamilton scored his first career shorthanded goal and his second in as many games for the game winner late in the second period, and Nino Niederreiter capped the scoring with an early third-period goal.
Alex Nedeljkovic continued his run of stellar play and came the season and of his career, making several grade-A saves throughout the night, stopping 25 of 26 shots and coming 10 seconds away from his second shutout of the season. In his last six starts, Nedeljkovic is 5-1-0 with one shutout, nine goals against and a .950 save percentage.
Special teams again made a big difference for Carolina. The team’s power play, which came into the game at No. 1 in the NHL, did not score in its lone opportunity, but the penalty kill, which is now 14 for its last 14, scored the game’s first goal shorthanded and killed off both of the Red Wings’ two power plays.
Other than a few chances either way, including a late breakaway for Andrei Svechnikov that Jonathan Bernier stopped with the shaft of his stick, the first period of this one was fairly uneventful.
With the Red Wings on a power play late in the second period, it was the Hurricanes’ red-hot penalty kill that broke the ice first. Hamilton, who broke a 16-game goal drought Thursday, scored for the second game in a row, this time burying a shot on a two-on-one shorthanded rush with Sebastian Aho to push his point streak to eight games. Hamilton notched two milestones with one shot, as his first career shorthanded goal was also his 100th point in a Hurricanes uniform.
Douglas Hamilton. Shorthanded goal. 8-game point streak. 1-0 Hurricanes. pic.twitter.com/7k5jG4Kjpp— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) March 14, 2021
Over the Hurricanes’ last three and two thirds games, the Canes’ penalty kill has outscored opposing power plays 2-0.
The Canes wasted little time extending their lead in the third period. Just 1:37 in, following a highlight-reel stop by Nedeljkovic on the other end, Niederreiter took a pass at the top of the right circle from Aho and sniped a shot past Bernier for his 12th of the season. Niederreiter scored 11 goals in 67 games last year, and has enjoyed quite the bounce back in 2021.
Nino Niederreiter with a perfect snipe to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead in Detroit. pic.twitter.com/Rt7Vgo6DTr— Canes Country (@CanesCountry) March 14, 2021
The Red Wings continued to push the rest of the third period but Nedeljkovic was up to the task, putting a late exclamation point on his performance with a flurry of late saves with Detroit’s net empty.
The Red Wings broke the shutout with 10 seconds left on a goal by Anthony Mantha, but it was a case of too little, too late.
The Hurricanes will look to make it nine in a row in Detroit Tuesday night.