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ALN: Canes extend streak to eight; become first team to reach 20 wins

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The Carolina Hurricanes kept the train chugging along as they added another win to their belt; a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena Sunday evening.

Carolina Hurricanes v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes extended their winning streak to eight games as they defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 at Little Caesars Arena Sunday evening.

With the victory, the Hurricanes became the first team to reach 20 total wins this season — which is also franchise first.

While the games against Detroit have been a bit closer than some would imagine, a win is a win and good teams find ways to get it done.

Here are a few thoughts from the game last night:

Goaltending Duel

The night’s main event featured the climatic Duel of the Fates between Alex Nedeljkoivc and Jonathan Bernier. Both team’s netminders played at an elevated level, making crazy saves and robberies to keep each’s team in the game.

The highlights for Nedeljkovic being a few point blank saves, while Bernier’s stick made about 3-4 saves, but none were as crazy as the weird bounce off the end board Bernier had to stop.

Bernier may continue to be a thorn in the Hurricanes’ side as the 32-year old netminder has been a stable presence on a bottom of the board Detroit team.

After his 31-save performance last night, Bernier is rocking a 0.912 save percentage and a less than 3 goals against average despite the Red Wings having a -33 goal differential.

On the Hurricanes side of things, Nedeljkovic made 25 saves and was about 10 seconds away from his second career NHL shutout before a puck deflected off of Sebastian Aho’s skate blade and into the net.

Nedeljkovic has had quite a run as of late having won five of his last six starts. In that span, Nedeljkovic has a 0.95 save percentage and only 9 total goals against. He has been a wall for Carolina and one of the biggest reasons for their success with Petr Mrazek injured.

Special Teams

The Carolina Hurricanes’ power play scoring streak ended at seven games as the team failed to convert on their single power play opportunity last night.

That power play didn’t look good either as the Hurricanes were actually outshot 2-1 while on the man advantage, but it was the only shot they got as the game was a surprisingly clean affair with only three total penalties being called, all in the second period.

It makes sense that Carolina’s power play would hit a bump sooner or later and especially with their leading scorer, Vincent Trocheck, being out with an injury.

However, the Canes also touted a top-10 penalty kill and that proved to be a difference maker in last night’ matchup.

The Canes called on the kill twice in the game — once for a Brady Skjei hold and the other for a Jesper Fast hook — and came away with a +1 goal differential.

It was in fact solely the Dougie Hamilton show during the second kill, where the Canes defenceman did it all.

Knocking down a shot attempt, Hamilton transitioned the puck through all three zones and outwaited Detroit’s single man back, wristing the puck in past Bernier

What was even more shocking was that it was actually Hamilton’s first ever shorthanded goal, a fact that surprised even a few of his teammates.

“I had no idea,” Nino Niederreiter said after the game. “But he looked like he had done it before.”

“It was his first?” said a befuddled Nedeljkovic. “I thought that maybe he would have had a few more.”

“I was surprised, because he’s always in the play, whether it’s power play, shorthanded, he’s always looking to jump in there,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour.

Hamilton’s Return(?)

Regardless of whether or not you subscribe to the school of thought that Dougie Hamilton was or wasn’t playing up to an expected level, it’s apparent that he’s feeling himself right now.

Goals in two games straight and now on an eight-game point streak, Hamilton has been a thriving catalyst for Carolina’s offense as of late and especially on the top power-play unit.

He’s fourth in power play points among defensemen and tied for sixth overall in assists by defensemen (second among defensemen not part of the North division).

He’s helping generate offense not only with his shooting and passing, but with zone entries and holds as well. And on the other side of the game, his defense has been very reliable.

All around, Hamilton has seemed like the same player just minus the finishing touch. He had been snake bitten for a while with a few rings off the iron, but now that the goals are starting to come, we may see Hamilton go on a tear.

Youth Infusion

Maybe not as apparent in last night’s match, but more so as of late, Carolina’s development of prospects has become a shining promise for the franchise.

I’m not talking about guys like Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov that jumped right into the organization and just went off, but the guys that needed a bit of time to find their game and learn the ropes.

I’m talking about players like Steven Lorentz, Morgan Geekie, Jake Bean and Alex Nedeljkovic.

Guys who spent time in the organization at lower levels and weren’t just handed a roster spot.

It had been a long time since the Hurricanes managed to get a steady stream of prospects to properly develop and be impactful players and really you can trace it back to players like Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce.

Two middle round picks that have turned into elite-level players.

Now look at how much home-grown talent is on the roster: Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Martin Necas, Warren Foegele, Brock McGinn, Steven Lorentz, Morgan Geekie, Jake Bean, Haydn Fleury and Alex Nedeljkovic.

Carolina had a development problem many moons ago, but the replenishment of the prospect pool, not just with the high-end players, but the impact and depth players as well is what is helping push the Hurricanes along and will inevitably make them able to field better rosters with theses cheap, young players making leaps and bounds.