The Hurricanes celebrated Jordan Staal’s 1,000th NHL game in PNC Arena Monday night, but that was the only thing worth celebrating in an embarrassing 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
It was easily the Canes’ worst performance of the season, as they were simply outplayed by an inferior opponent.
James Reimer was a small bright spot for the Hurricanes with 27 saves on 29 shots, as he made some saves in the first two periods that gave Carolina a chance going into the third.
The game opened with a pre-game ceremony for Staal that included a video tribute with messages from his family and former teammates, including Hurricanes legends Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Justin Williams.
Jordan Staal received an authentic painting and silver stick from Don Waddell, he and his family received more gifts from his teammates and their families, and the Hurricanes presented Staal and his brothers with a trip to Pebble Beach Golf Course.
Following a scoreless first two periods, the Red Wings wasted little time jumping in front in the third, with two goals in the first 2:34 of the period.
Just 24 seconds in, Michael Rasmussen circled the net and slid a backhand feed to Adam Erne, who was left unmarked at the far post for the tap-in and 1-0 lead. The Canes challenged the goal for offsides, but a lengthy review upheld it. Erne has been a Hurricanes killer this season; of his 11 goals, four have come against Carolina.
With 47 seconds left on the ensuing delay of game penalty, the Canes were the victims of a questionable call, as Brady Skjei was called for shooting the puck over the glass, but the puck appeared to deflect off Evgeny Svechnikov’s stick on its way out.
Just after the 5-on-3 expired, Filip Zadina put Detroit up 2-0 on the power play.
Carolina got two power plays of its own in the third period, but could not muster any chances and failed to capitalize. With 6:06 left to play, however, the Canes finally broke the shutout as Nino Niederreiter pounced on a loose puck in front of the net and roofed it over Jonathan Bernier to make it 2-1. The goal got Staal on the scoresheet in his 1,000th game with his 17th assist of the season.
The push came too little, too late, however, as despite pulling Reimer for an extra attacker with 2:13 left, the Canes couldn’t find the equalizer, and Sam Gagner made it 3-1 with an empty netter to put the Canes’ embarrassing loss to bed.
Perhaps the Canes still had their thoughts on the ceremony in the opening frame, but it was not a strong first 20 minutes for Carolina, as the Hurricanes were sloppy with the puck and the Red Wings controlled play, forcing James Reimer to make some sharp stops.
The Canes seemed to wake up a bit with a couple offensive flurries in the last minute of the period, but both teams skated to the intermission scoreless thanks to their goaltenders.
Despite more poor play early in the second period, the Canes nearly jumped in front on the game’s first power play on a rebound chance for Jesper Fast, but Beriner sprawled out for a snow angel to cover the puck.
Reimer continued to make his own big stops in the second period, including a partial breakaway stop on Luke Glendening with about six minutes left.
The Canes got another chance to jump in front with about five minute left in the period on a shorthanded breakaway for Vincent Trocheck, but Bernier stopped him as the goalie duel continued.
The Canes will now have two days off, and then look to bounce back quickly with a game against the Nashville Predators Thursday.