Red Wings Recap - Red Wings Weather The Storm In Carolina

After a rousing success against Toronto last night, expectations were high for the Wings as they traveled down south to Raleigh, North Carolina for a date with the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes were coming off of a tough 2-1 road loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night and were fired up to kick off their home opener. It surely showed.

1st Period

The Hurricanes kept coming. And coming. And coming. And the Wings certainly helped them out by taking four penalties in the first period, giving the Hurricanes an extended 5-on-3 opportunity and almost five minutes of powerplay time. As you can imagine, this penalty disparity led to a disproportionate edge in shots for the Hurricanes. Sitting at the game, I felt that the shot clock operator was going to develop carpal tunnel syndrome from continuously pushing the button. Nonetheless, in Saint Petr we trust as Mrazek was unbelievable in the 1st period, making several incredible saves on the 5-on-3. Ultimately, if I had to describe the 1st period in one gif, it would be the following:

Without Mrazek the 1st period would have been a total lost cause.

Score: 0-0

Shots: 18-2 Carolina (no that's not a typo)

Standout Player: Petr Mrazek

Tough Period: Everyone else

2nd Period

The Wings started the 2nd period shorthanded, thanks to a high-sticking penalty to Dylan Larkin with one minute remaining in the first. The Wings managed to survive the penalty kill thanks to excellent shot-blocking and stick placement from Luke Glendening, Drew Miller, Jonathan Ericsson, and Kyle Quincey. However, the barrage continued as Carolina racked up the shots on goal. At one point, the shots on goal were 30-5 in favor of Carolina. I honestly cannot remember the last time I ever saw that happen to the Wings. Alas, the Wings made their 6th shot count as the "Zetterbeard" made a dazzling cut around Jordan Staal to the front of the net after receiving a nice dump pass from Larkin.

However, the Hurricanes were not ready to fold and just 3:39 later, Carolina's Victor Rask scored on a fluky batted puck past Mrazek. This goal is actually created by a terrible giveaway by Mike Green in his own zone. Green nonchalantly flipped the puck in the air trying to aerially clear the puck. Instead, Carolina's Noah Hanifin caught the puck and fired a rocket of a shot that hit the back stanchion, bounced on the top of the net, and was then batted into the net by Rask. At this point, I'm sitting in the stands just hoping the Wings could survive to make it to the 2nd intermission. Carolina was approaching 60 shot attempts and Detroit had yet to touch 15. As the announcer calls one minute remaining in the period, Carolina's Ryan Murphy made a great move to step around Gustav Nyquist and fires a rocket of a pass to the front of the net where Nathan Gerbe tips it past Mrazek. 2-1 bad guys. The 2nd period ends, thankfully.

Score: 2-1 Carolina

Shots: 34-8

Standout Player: Petr Mrazek

Tough Period: Everyone else

3rd Period

At this point, I'm just hoping it doesn't get much worse. However, Jeff Blashill has a little trick up his sleeve. Up until this point, the only line that had remotely done anything was the Larkin-Zetterberg-Abdelkader line. To spruce up his offense, Blashill moved Larkin to the 2nd line to center Tomas Tatar and Teemu Pulkkinen. Blashill moved Nyquist up to play with Zetterberg and Abdelkader and moved Brad Richards down to center Riley Sheahan and Johan Franzen. Like lightning in a bottle, the Larkin-Tatar-Pulkkinen sparked the Wings. In the first five minutes of the period, the Wings almost doubled their 5v5 shot attempts. The Wings finally struck some luck when Carolina's Ron Hainsey inadvertently put the puck right on Pulkkinen's stick in front of the net.

That goal seemed to energize the Wings and just under two minutes later, Pulkkinen struck again, this time on a deflection off of a seemingly harmless Tatar shot.

This goal really deflated everyone in PNC Arena that was rooting for the 'Canes (roughly 35%). However, you still felt like the 'Canes weren't going to quit on this game. They immediately brought a few waves of attack that were admirably fended off by Mrazek. In the midst of that surge, Zetterberg decided that he was going to do his usual "you will never get this, you will never get this, la la la la la" with the puck and made a marvelous pass to Abdelkader for the insurance goal.

Abdelkader's 4th(!) of the year proved necessary as Carolina's Justin Faulk scored a powerplay goal with 1.1 seconds while Pulkkinen sat in the box for a double minor.

Score: 4-2 Red Wings

Shots: 47-19 Carolina

Standout Players: Mrazek, Pulkkinen, Zetterberg, Nyquist, Larkin, Tatar

Tough Period: Green, Kindl

Game Observations

  • This may have been one of the worst games you'll ever see the Wings play and they still found a way to win. Kudos to Jeff Blashill for knowing which buttons to push and making the necessary line juggling in the 3rd period
  • Petr Mrazek, what else can you say? Faces 47 shots in the opener and stop 44 of them. I'm getting a good feeling that this goaltending tandem might just be the best in the league.
  • While the shot totals are very high for Carolina, I still liked the in-zone coverage from the Wings. There were probably 3 or 4 tap-in goals that Carolina could have had if not for excellent positioning by the Wings defenders.
  • PSA - Dylan Larkin is still very very good. He led the Wings in shots for the 2nd game in a row with 4 and was easily the most noticeable forward during the first two periods.
  • Mike Green and Brad Richards did not have good games today, both making key mistakes that led to goals for the Hurricanes. Nonetheless, both are experienced veterans and will be back.
  • Petr Mrazek is your Red Wings POTG. /