DETROIT - Backed by 25 saves from Alex Nedeljkovic and timely goals from Dougie Hamilton and Nino Niederreiter, the Carolina Hurricanes extended their winning streak to eight games with a 2-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.
"Everybody is chipping in. That's exactly the key to our success right now," Niederreiter said. "Everybody is stepping up the way they have to."
HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY | STATISTICS
In 578 career NHL games, Hamilton had scored 98 goals but none on the man disadvantage.
On the penalty skill in the second period, Hamilton grabbed a loose puck in the defensive zone and raced down the ice with Sebastian Aho on a 2-on-1 rush. Dylan Larkin dropped to his stomach to defend the crossing feed, so Hamilton waited, dragged and fired a wrist shot through Jonathan Bernier for the first goal of the game.
Video: CAR@DET: Hamilton nearly goes coast-to-coast for SHG
"That was his first? I thought he maybe would have had a few more," Nedeljkovic said. "It's not surprising at all. He's a great player with a good mind for offense."
"It looked like he had done it before," Niederreiter smiled. "It was a great shot by him and great patience."
Hamilton has scored a goal in consecutive games and extended his point streak, the longest active point streak in the NHL, to eight games (2g, 8a).
"His instincts are what make him special," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "That was a huge play in the game."
Though the Canes didn't convert on their one power play opportunity, the first time in the last eight games they haven't done so, they still won the special teams battle with a clean 2-for-2 performance on the penalty kill and Hamilton's shorthanded tally.
"The penalty kill was really solid. That was the difference in the hockey game. We had the one and could have had a couple more," Brind'Amour said. "We always talk about that special teams are a huge part of the game, and we were definitely good tonight there."
Niederreiter gave the Canes a cushion in the third period with his 12th goal of the season. Aho laid the puck off for Niederreiter, who had ample time and space to step up at the top of the right circle and fire a wrist shot off the far post and in to put his team ahead 2-0.
Video: CAR@DET: Niederreiter rifles wrist shot home far side
"I had plenty of time to pick a corner, and I'm glad it went in," Niederreiter said of the goal that would eventually prove to be the game winner.
Sometimes, a team will score a goal as soon as an opponent exits the penalty box. It's not officially a power-play goal, but it's basically one.
Similarly, Nedeljkovic was 9.4 seconds away from his second shutout of the season when Anthony Mantha made it a 2-1 game. Nedeljkovic, with 25 saves on 26 shots, doesn't officially get the shutout, obviously - but it might as well have been one.
"Guys are doing a good job in front of me giving me good lanes, letting me see the puck and helping me out at times when I'm leaving rebounds," Nedeljkovic said. "Tonight was a great game. From the get-go, we were ready to play."
The Canes' 25-year-old goaltender was solid once again, and his two best saves of the game came against Dylan Larkin. In the first period, Larkin had a step on Aho, and Nedeljkovic blockered away Larkin's scoring chance to keep the game scoreless.
In the third period, Larkin had a grade-A scoring opportunity, a backhand right on the doorstep, that Nedeljkovic turned aside. Shortly after, Niederreiter scored in transition in what was a game-defining sequence.
In his last six starts, Nedeljkovic is 5-1-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average, a .950 save percentage and one shutout (and nearly another).
"Goaltending is so important. That position is pivotal. You've got to have it. It gives your whole group confidence when you know your goalie can bail you out of crazy situations," Brind'Amour said. "He's been good, and I'm happy for him. He's put in his time. I'm really happy for him."
579: Hamilton scored his first career shorthanded goal in his 579th NHL game.
100: Hamilton's shorthanded goal was also his 100th point with the Hurricanes (35g, 65a).
7: According to NHL PR, Brind'Amour is the seventh head coach in NHL history to record a win streak of at least eight games as both a player and coach with the same franchise.
Bizarre Moment of the Night
An otherwise harmless dump-in from Hamilton almost got the Canes on the board in the first period when the puck careened off a stanchion and nearly slipped past Bernier.
Fittingly, the Little Caesars Arena DJ immediately cued up OMC's "How Bizarre."
Quote of the Night
"We have confidence in our group that we can win every game if we play our style and our game." - Dougie Hamilton
The Canes will hit the halfway point of the regular season when they face off with the Red Wings again on Tuesday night.
"The locker room is amazing. … The mood is really relaxed and fun, but when we get on the ice, it's time to work. We try to come ready and prepared for games as best we can, and there's talent up and down the lineup," Nedeljkovic said. "It's been a good run so far, but we've got a long way to go."