One of these days, the Carolina Hurricanes will win a game on the scoreboard that they controlled in most of the gameplay. Unfortunately for them, Thursday was not that day.
The Detroit Red Wings scored on their first shot of the game to take the lead and on their final shot to take the win, stunning Carolina with a 3-2 smash-and-grab victory. The Hurricanes outshot the home team 33-22 and dominated play for long stretches, but came away not only empty-handed, but with a reduced division lead that’s now down to a single point.
Alex Nedeljkovic stymied his former club for most of the night, only allowing a pair of screened shots through to improve his career record to 3-1 against the team that drafted him. At the other end, Frederik Andersen took the loss, the first of his career in regulation against Detroit after ten wins and a single overtime loss.
Dominik Kubalik gave the Red Wings the lead on their first shot of the game, 59 seconds in, taking advantage of a misread by Brent Burns at the Detroit blue line and sneaking down the ice to beat Andersen cleanly. Despite receiving the first power play of the game fifteen minutes in, the Hurricanes couldn’t cash in, and went into the first intermission down one after their fourth consecutive scoreless period.
Burns made amends for his mistake to tie the game in the first minute of the second period, getting credit for a shot that may have changed direction past Nedeljkovic. Just over three minutes later, Burns’ partner, Jaccob Slavin, gave the Hurricanes the lead on a shot that was definitely tipped by a Red Wings defender.
But with Martin Necas in the penalty box for hooking, it took the Red Wings all of seven seconds to tie the game again. Dylan Larkin left Burns in no-man’s land in front of the net, and finished off a give-and-go with Alex Chiasson from a faceoff, pulling the Wings back to even.
Andersen had to come up big late in the third when Kubalik had a solid bid for his second denied with the Wings on the power play, and got a bit of good fortune when David Perron inexplicably shoved the puck wide of a gaping net. But despite Carolina registering a 85-34 lead in shot attempts in the game and holding a 42-14 advantage in scoring chances per Natural Stat Trick — those numbers are not a misprint — the sand ran out of the hourglass just before the final horn.
Walman’s shot, to be fair, was perfectly placed, over the top of Andersen’s glove. But to take a loss, in that situation, given those numbers, is still a damning indictment of a squad that was without Teuvo Teravainen (illness) on top of the long term injuries to Max Pacioretty and Andrei Svechnikov. The Hurricanes’ forwards, fair or not when considering their domination of possession, have not scored in six periods.
With New Jersey’s win over the Rangers, the Hurricanes are now very much in a race to the finish, and momentum is decidedly not on their side as they navigate the business end of the season, no matter what the schedule says for the next two weeks.
The Hurricanes’ short road trip concludes in Montreal on Saturday before the team returns home next week.