RALEIGH, N.C. – As valiantly as the Carolina Hurricanes fought to earn a win, they ended up faltering and suffered a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at PNC Arena on Saturday.
Victor Rask, Nathan Gerbe, and Justin Faulk all scored their first goals of the season as Carolina outshot the Red Wings 47-19.
Rookie defenseman Noah Hanifin made his debut in front of the home crowd and even recorded his first NHL point, an assist on Rask’s goal, and finished with a plus-2 rating while playing just over 17 minutes throughout the game.
However, all those individual performances couldn’t mesh cohesively and amply enough for the Hurricanes (0-2) to win their home opener.
They were unable to capitalize on more of the plethora of scoring chances they had, compared to how well Detroit (2-0) fared with theirs.
Teemu Pulkinnen (2g) and Henrik Zetterberg (1g, 1a) were the prime catalysts who fired up the Red Wings offense, particularly during the final 30 minutes of play.
“They started to skate better as the game went along – in the second half of the second (period),” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“Obviously, they had better legs in the third.”
It was a game that for all intents and purposes Carolina should have won to give the majority of the standing room only crowd of 18,949 something to feel good about on the way home.
However, it was the strong and vocal contingent of Red Wings fans who were all smiles and relieved that their team survived the barrage of shots it faced early on.
Carolina dominated the first period of play and outshot the Red Wings 18-2, but Detroit goalkeeper Petr Mrazek was up to the task all night and eventually finished making 44 saves to earn the win.
“The first two periods we obviously weren’t skating well enough, weren’t playing to the capabilities that I think we’re able to, that we know we’re able to,” Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill said.
“Petr held us in for those two periods and we killed too many penalties, but in the third period I thought we really started skating.”
Detroit provided Carolina ample power play opportunities, six throughout the game, and of which the Hurricanes capitalized on only one – Faulk’s goal with 2.1 seconds remaining in the game.
By then it was too late, as Detroit had built its lead up to 4-2 with enough of a buffer to earn the win.
“That goal didn’t matter,” Faulk said.
“We kind of gave them their chances I think. They capitalized on their opportunities to score. We were playin’ a pretty good game. I felt we played a good game throughout, but the breaks they got were from ourselves.”
In addition to Faulk, who took seven shots on goal, forwards Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner took nine and five respectively throughout the game, including Staal deflecting one off the post at the midpoint of the first period.
It was a frustrating opening 20 minutes of play for Carolina.
Skinner put together a sequence of shot attempts and moves to try to beat Mrazek, but had no success.
Faulk put shot attempts towards the Red Wings net, but couldn’t score either.
Carolina maintained its offensive pressure on the Red Wings and got numerous man-advantage opportunities, but still went scoreless.
Then it happened – the Red Wings scored first at 11:33 of the second period.
Zetterberg beat Jordan Staal out of the corner to Ward’s left before carrying the puck from behind the goal line and around the crease to beat the netminder cleanly with a shot towards the opposite post.
Carolina tied it up with 4:48 to play in the period.
It was Hanifin’s time to shine as he put a shot over the net which subsequently rebounded off the glass and back over the crossbar where Rask batted it into the net while in mid-air.
It was Rask’s first goal of the season and Hanifin’s first career NHL point.
“It was nice getting that,” Hanifin said.
“We lost, so it would have been nice if we got the win, but it was pretty cool to experience that.”
With 56.5 seconds left in the period, Gerbe tipped in a Ryan Murphy centering pass in the slot that put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1.
After two periods, Carolina had outshot the Red Wings 34-8.
Detroit came out firing early in the third, as Ward made consecutive stops on Zetterberg’s shot from the wing and Dylan Larkin’s attempt to score on the ensuing rebound.
The Red Wings’ deep forecheck paid big dividends as Pulkinnen evened the score 2-2 with 15:21 to play.
With Larkin and Tomas Tatar battling with Faulk and defensive partner Ron Hainsey in the corner to Ward’s left, Pulkinnen was at the top of the crease when the puck slid out of the corner as a result of Hainsey’s attempt to chip the puck out of the scrum.
Detroit took the lead 3-2 with 13:24 remaining as Pulkinnen tipped Tatar’s shot from the point.
The Red Wings weren’t done.
Justin Abdelkader then scored his fourth goal of the season to finalize the Red Wings’ scoring with 3:35 remaining.
Zetterberg controlled the puck behind the Carolina net, and kept it away from Andrej Nestrasil and Hainsey before he centered it to Abdelkader who one-timed the shot through traffic and past Ward.
“We broke down in the D-zone,” Peters said.
“We could have been a little firmer on the puck. And obviously the game winner, that’s just a blatant D-zone breakdown by us.”