RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes dropped a 3-1 decision to the Detroit Red Wings at PNC Arena on Sunday.
Jay McClement scored the Hurricanes’ lone goal while goaltender Cam Ward made 19 saves in the losing effort, the Hurricanes’ third loss in four games.
Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar did all the damage for the Red Wings as their multiple-point finishes along with a 34-save effort from netminder Petr Mrazek, highlighted the winning effort from the visitors who won their third in a row.
In facing his old team, head coach Bill Peters wasn’t able to get his lineup to match up as evenly as he wanted to right from the opening faceoff.
Defenseman Tim Gleason was assessed a double-minor for high sticking at 2:31 and Carolina relied on its goaltender to successfully defend against the seventh-best power play in the league.
Ward was sharp as he made six consecutive saves to help kill off the penalty.
“A double-minor early kind of affected our flow a little bit,” Peters said.
“You wanna’ get everybody goin’ and get everybody into the game and it didn’t really happen in the first, and then we fell behind and made it very hard.”
Carolina had ample man-advantage chances but couldn’t beat Mrazek as he made several key saves himself when his team was shorthanded.
The Hurricanes finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
Aside from Mrazek making stops, Detroit’s defensive play blocked 18 shots throughout the game and Carolina was unable to corral many rebounds and loose pucks around the net.
Though the Red Wings also finished without a goal on the power play, finishing 0-for-3 in man-up situations, it was Datsyuk who became the one man demolition team, having a hand in all three of his team’s goals.
After Ward made a blocker save on Jonathan Ericcson’s back hander on a pinch play, the Red Wings defenseman followed up his own rebound behind the net and circled to the left corner before sliding a diagonal cross-zone pass to the point where Datsyuk had backed him up.
The Detroit center let a quick wrist shot go that stayed on the ice and slide between Ward’s pads to give Detroit a 1-0 lead with 3:24 remaining in the opening period.
Ward kept the score at a one-goal margin as he stopped a breakaway attempt on Riley Sheahan soon after.
However, it only took Detroit two minutes to add to its lead as Tatar put the puck on net after it deflected off Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk.
After Kyle Quincey dumped the puck into the Carolina zone and around the boards, Faulk couldn’t get a hold of it and it deflected straight towards Datsyuk and Tatar in the circle to Ward’s right.
As Datsyuk was falling, Tatar turned around and in the same motion snapped the puck towards the net past an unsuspecting Ward.
Unfortunately for the keeper, the puck deflected into the net off defenseman Andrej Sekera’s skate as he was coming through the crease to defend on the play.
Detroit carried the 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
With Alexander Semin sitting in the penalty box early in the next period, if not for a shot ringing off the post during Detroit’s second power play opportunity of the game, it would more or less have been over.
It took a little longer, but Tatar eventually did just that as he scored his second of the game on a setup from Datsyuk to beat Ward on his stick side.
The goal put Carolina behind 3-0 with 12:14 remaining and according to Peters, forced him to shorten his bench in an attempt to better match up with Datsyuk’s line while trying to create scoring opportunities.
“No we didn’t play many guys after that,” Peters said.
“We’re tryin’ to come back, we’re tryin’ to score, we’re tryin’ to get some guys who were dangerous (out there). I thought Skinny was dangerous. He ended up with a lot of shots and some good quality shots. Usually, with the quality he had today, he usually finishes one of those, and I thought him and Staalsy were dangerous as a duo, and we put Sems with them to generate some offense. I thought Victor Rask, who we combined a group together to play against Pavel, I thought Victor did a good job end-to-end there. It’s a tall task.”
The Hurricanes finally got on the board with 2:49 left in the period as McClement redirected a Tim Gleason point shot to score his first goal of the season.
After the Carolina center won the faceoff back to the defenseman, he headed to the low slot where a rising snap shot was headed towards the Detroit net.
He got his stick in the way and redirected the puck past Mrazek’s left shoulder.
“It’s nice,” McClement said of scoring his first goal since last April.
“It was starting to wear on me a little bit. It was nice to get it out of the way, but more importantly, we didn’t do the things we needed to do to get the win tonight. That would have been a little sweeter.”
With Detroit leading 3-1 in the third period, Carolina got its final opportunity on the power play and had another chance to get closer.
However, Mrazek stymied the Hurricanes’ efforts, making three saves on the play as the teams returned to even strength.
Both goaltenders continued to make critical saves.
While Ward stayed sharp denying Gustav Nyquist on successive backhanders at one end, Mrazek denied Eric Staal at the other.
It turned out to be another game on a night when the style of play that Peters has been molding this season’s Hurricanes team to play with was outdone by the squad that executed a similar style better and earned the win as a result.
“There’s too many nights when we have shots, but we don’t have net-front traffic,” Peters said.
“If you can get underneath them at the net and for those rebounds, I thought the puck was comin’ off him, their guy, a little bit here tonight. Then you can get those rebounds, to score on seconds and thirds. We’ve gotta’ do a much better job of that, not only tonight but moving forward.”
Notes: Datsyuk’s multiple-point game was his eighth of the season while Tatar’s was his second… Datsyuk and Tatar finished with three goals total on four shots combined… Skinner finished the game with 10 shots on goal to go along with three blocked and three missed…McClement’s goal was his first dating back to Apr. 1 when he scored against Calgary while playing for Toronto…Detroit played a much more physical game, outmuscling Carolina 21-12 in total hits given out.