|Landon Ferraro had himself an awesome game Saturday, scoring his first career goal to go with three takeaways and three blocked shots. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings) |
RALEIGH, N.C. – Landon Ferraro has definitely paid his dues.
The Red Wings’ prospect has labored in the minors for more than four seasons, so when he banged in his first career NHL goal Saturday night his exuberance was understandable.
“This was just my seventh game in the league over two years,” Ferraro said. “I was just thinking to myself tonight I just really wanted to get it in or it would be a long off-season of waiting for another chance at it. So I was really happy to get it out of the way early tonight and get the win through the rest of the night.”
Ferraro’s goal in the opening minute against the Carolina Hurricanes also stood up as the game winner in a 2-0 victory in the season finale at PNC Arena.
Goalie Petr Mrazek made 35 saves for his third shutout of the season, the fifth in 35 career starts, and center Joakim Andersson added an empty-net goal with 2:20 left in regulation.
The win gave the Wings 100 points for the 17th time in the past 20 full seasons. No other team in the NHL has enjoyed as many 100-point campaigns since 1992-93.
“It’s hard,” coach Mike Babcock said of reaching the century mark. “All you have to do is look around at the quality teams that don’t make the playoffs. It’s hard to make the playoffs, so our guys did a nice job.”
The 23-year-old Ferraro has had his most productive pro season since his sophomore year in the Western Hockey League when he led Red Deer in goals and points. This season in Grand Rapids he scored 28 goals – all even-strength tallies – and 42 points in 70 games.
In four-plus seasons in the American Hockey League, Ferraro has 76 goals in 270 games with the Griffins.
Ferraro and his linemates, center Luke Glendening and forward Drew Miller had a very good game. Aside from his goal, Ferraro turned into a defensive buzz saw causing numerous headaches for the Hurricanes. He had a game-high three takeaways and led the Wings with three blocked shots.
“Real good that he played 16 minutes with Glennie, he can help us for sure. That’s good,” Babcock said. “Lando’s put in his time, he’s been an honest player. He’s gotten better and better and as he gets stronger he’ll continue to get better.”
The Wings called up Ferraro, the son of former NHL player Ray Ferraro, last Monday when they learned that Justin Abdelkader (hand) would be out of the lineup for a while. The Wings like Ferraro’s speed, craftiness and his tenacity without the puck.
Ferraro scored on a tremendous individual effort, wrapping around a backhand shot on Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward just 48 seconds into the game. After Glendening won a face-off to the right of Carolina’s net, Ferraro scooped up the puck inside the circle and fired a shot, which was blocked by defenseman Ryan Murphy. Not giving up, the Wings’ rookie chased the puck behind the net before beating Ward to the far post.
So caught up in the moment, Ferraro had to ask Glendening to remind him of how he celebrated the personal milestone.
“I asked him what I did because all I remember was yelling really loud and turning into the corner and then I don’t really know what happened after that,” Ferraro said. “It was cool. It was everything I thought it would be. It’s something you always dream of.”
Ferraro was the third Wings rookie to collect his first goal this season, joining Alexey Marchenko and Teemu Pulkkinen.
Ferraro likened the excitement of scoring his first NHL goal to that of playing in the AHL championship in 2013.
“It’s probably the same feeling I had going into the Calder Cup finals,” Ferraro said. “It’s something you dream about doing and then you finally get it that early into a game it gives you a boost for the rest of it. It’s a cool feeling and it kind of set me up for the rest of the game.”
The Red Wings enter the Stanley Cup playoffs as the No. 3 seed in their first-round series against No. 2 Tampa Bay. The first two games of the best-of-seven series will be played at Amalie Arena. Game 1 is likely Thursday night as the legendary rock band The Who has a scheduled concert at the arena on Wednesday.
“Real good team, obviously," Babcock said of the Lightning. "Play a fast game, up tight to you, really good offensively, score like crazy. That’s the beauty of the playoffs, it’ll be fun.”
The Wings were 1-2-1 and out-scored 12-9 in their season series against Tampa Bay. However, in the last meeting, Mrazek made 23 saves in a 4-0 win on March 28 at Joe Louis Arena.