The Alex Nedeljkovic Revenge Game™.
Carolina was the aggressor for most of the night, but the former Canes’ netminder made great save after great save to deny Carolina and win the game for his current squad.
Detroit, which finished the game with just 22 shots, opened the scoring in the final seconds of the second period on a quasi power play goal from Moritz Seider, while Adam Erne doubled the lead in the first few minutes of the third period. Filip Zadina made it 3-0 with a heavy wrister later in the third.
In the Canes’ net, Antti Raanta made some really nice saves but also let in some pretty soft goals in a not-too-busy night, stopping 19 of 22 shots faced in a forgettable loss.
Seider’s opener bled through Raanta, though from a very high-danger spot on the ice, while Erne scored off a rebound that certainly could have been better defended by Tony DeAngelo. Zadina’s powerful wrister caught Raanta off guard a bit, and was another goal Raanta would probably want back as it took a deflection of his glove before going in.
There was more to the loss than just the goalies, though, as Carolina’s special teams also let it down Thursday night. On the power play, the Canes went 0 for 3 and managed just a couple shots and four scoring chances. And while Carolina’s penalty kill was technically 1 for 1, Seider’s goal came with Brett Pesce making his way out of the box.
The first period was all Canes, though the score at the end of the first 20 minutes read 0-0. Carolina had an 11-4 edge in shots and a 7-1 advantage in high-danger chances for, but Nedeljkovic was particularly excellent to start the night and keep the Hurricanes off the board.
The only really bad thing, other than the lack of goals, for the Canes in the first period was the game’s first power play, a two-minute stretch where Carolina mustered 0 shots with an extra man on the ice.
While slightly less dominant for the Canes, the second period mirrored the first in a lot of ways. The Hurricanes found some chances and took some good shots on Nedeljkovic, but the former Carolina netminder just wouldn’t be beaten.
At about the midway point in the second things did start to shift, though, as Detroit started to pile up a few more looks on Raanta who had had things really quiet up to that point. Raanta, not to be outmatched by his counterpart on the other end of the ice, had some really grade-A saves in the back 10 minutes of the second period.
The Red Wings got their best chance at the very end of the second frame, as Pesce headed to the box for tripping with 2:13 left in the period. The Canes so very nearly killed off the penalty, but Seider squeaked a shot through Raanta off a great feed from Dylan Larkin literally as the power play expired to give Detroit a 1-0 lead heading into the locker room.
The Red Wings doubled their lead early in the third period, as a defensive lapse from DeAngelo helped Erne tally. DeAngelo couldn’t spot a rebound off Raanta, as Erne collected it and worked it to his backhand in the crease to punch it in and make it 2-0.
After another empty power play for the Canes, Zadina blasted a quick-fire wrister from beyond the circle that ricocheted off of Raanta’s glove and into the net to make it 3-0.
The Hurricanes will now look to move past their fourth shutout loss of the season Saturday night in Colorado against the Avalanche.