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Tatar scores twice as Red Wings defeat Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Playing on less than 24 hours rest, the Detroit Red Wings looked like a fresh, rested team.

Having Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup doesn't hurt, either.

Datsyuk scored the first goal of the game, then set up Tomas Tatar twice, leading the Red Wings to a 3-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Sunday.

One night after a come-from-behind 3-2 win against the New York Rangers, the Red Wings controlled play on their way to a 3-0 lead.

"It's way easier in back-to-back nights when you control the game versus chase the game," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I think we did that."

In his third start, goaltender Petr Mrazek made 34 saves for Detroit (17-6-5), which tied the Tampa Bay Lightning with 39 points for first place in the Atlantic Division.

After failing to score on a Carolina high-sticking double minor early in the first period, Detroit cashed in twice with the line of Datsyuk, Tatar and Darren Helm.

The Red Wings scored at 16:36 when Datsyuk used Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera as a screen in the right circle before scoring on a low snap shot inside the post.

Detroit extended the lead to 2-0 at 18:36. After defenseman Kyle Quincey shot the puck around the end boards from the neutral zone, Tatar gathered the bouncing puck in the left circle and scored on a deflection off Sekera's skate for his 11th.

"They were excellent obviously," Babcock said. "Some speed, some tenacity and some ability to score."

Datsyuk, who has eight multi-point games, feels comfortable with his linemates.

"From the beginning of the season, they have played well," Datsyuk said. "They skate, score and win the battles."

Tatar made it 3-0 at 12:14 of the second period. After Detroit cycled the puck in the corner in the offensive zone, Datsyuk slipped a backhand pass to Tatar, who was alone in front to beat goaltender Cam Ward (19 saves).

"You've got to help him your way, battle for pucks for Pavel," Tatar said. "You have to be in a good spot. He's going to take care of it. You just have to know where to be and how to help him. Helm is huge for us too. He's skating a lot and battling like crazy."

With a three-goal deficit, the Hurricanes began to pressure Mrazek in the third period, but he patiently turned away shots. The Detroit defense often took away passing lanes in front of the net.

"Every goaltender loves when the defensemen have the rebounds," Mrazek said. "I gave up a couple rebounds at the end of the first period and guys cleared everything out."

Carolina forward Jeff Skinner was a constant threat in the offensive zone with 10 shots and 16 attempts. Mrazek's best stop on Skinner came on a rising backhand in the second period.

"I didn't know [Skinner] had that many, but I know he's shooting everything and trying to go hard to the net, so I tried to prepare for that," Mrazek said.

The Hurricanes cut the lead to 3-1 on Jay McClement's first goal at 17:11 of the second period. After winning the draw, McClement moved to the slot to deflect defenseman Tim Gleason's shot from the right point.

The Hurricanes (8-15-3) have lost nine of their past 12.

Carolina coach Bill Peters, coaching his first game against the Red Wings after three seasons as an assistant, was asked if his team provided a tough test for Mrazek.

"No," Peters said. "Common theme: traffic. There's too many nights we talk about having shots, but we don't have net-front traffic. I thought the puck was coming off their guy a little bit here tonight. We've got to do a much better job of that."

Peters shortened his bench in the third period and juggled his lines, hoping to create some scoring opportunities.

"We're trying to get some guys who are dangerous," Peters said. "I thought [Skinner] was dangerous. He had some good quality shots. I thought him and [Eric Staal] were dangerous as a duo."

Staal was hit by a shot from Justin Faulk with 1:43 remaining. He had ice around his foot and was walking with crutches after the game.

The Hurricanes will conclude a five-game home stand on Monday when they host the New Jersey Devils.

Detroit returns home for a Wednesday game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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