Without Petr Mrazek as sharp as he was early on Saturday, the Hurricanes could have built an insurmountable lead on the Red Wings at PNC Arena.
Instead, the teams played a scoreless first period, mainly because of the job that the Wings’ 23-year-old goalie did. Mrazek was remarkable, especially during a 46-second span when the Wings were faced with countering a 3-on-5 disadvantage.
With Teemu Pulkkinen (hooking) and Justin Abdelkader (interference) serving minor infractions at 1:37 and 2:51 respectively, the Hurricanes’ power play jumped all over the Red Wings.
Almost immediately after winning the draw in the offensive zone, the Hurricanes peppered Mrazek with shot after shot, including a pair of great chances by Justin Faulk and Eric Staal.
As he did last night, fourth-line grinder Drew Miller came up with a huge clear during the 3-on-5, which allowed the Wings to get some fresh penalty killers on the ice. During Friday's 4-0 win over Toronto, Miller had two blocked shots after he discarded his broken stick earlier in his shift.
Because the Wings were chasing the puck so much in the period, the Hurricanes managed to hold a commanding 18-2 edge in shots on goal.
Detroit’s only shots came off the stick blades of Brendan Smith and Dylan Larkin. But Carolina goalie Cam Ward turned both shots aside.
DETROIT 0, CAROLINA 0
PENALTIES: 1, Det, Pulkkinen (hooking), 1:37; 2, Det, Abdelkader (interference), 2:51; 3, Det, Larkin (high-stick), 19:00; 4, Det, Abdelakder (roughing), 19:00; 5, Car, Skinner (rough), 19:00.
SHOTS: DETROIT 2, CAROLINA 18.
The second period started out pretty much the same way the first ended – with the Hurricanes carrying the play. However the second half of the period was much more entertaining with both teams finally scoring.
Carolina took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission getting goals from Victor Rask and Nathan Gerbe.
The Wings’ goal came on a pretty play by captain Henrik Zetterberg, who worked his way around Ward before tucking the puck behind the goalie’s right pad.
Early on, the sold-out crowd on opening night at PNC Arena though the home team took the lead on the power play when John-Michael Liles – a former Michigan State standout – whistled a shot past Mrazek. Fortunately for Mrazek, the goal post to his left was his best friend on the play. Striking the inside of the pipe, the puck traveled parallel with the goal line before exiting the crease to the right of the Detroit goalie.
For as poorly as things were going for the Wings, they received a huge lift from their captain, who gave them a 1-0 lead at 11:33. Zetterberg’s goal was the Wings’ sixth shot of the game.
Carolina capitalized on a defensive breakdown by the Wings. Rookie Noah Hanifin kept the puck in the offensive zone and fired a rocket high above the Wings’ net. The puck ricocheted off the glass and hit the top of the net before bounding in front of Mrazek, where Rask batted it out of the air and into the net.
The Hurricanes took the lead by taking advantage of another mishaps by the Wings in their own zone. Defenseman Ryan Murphy whipped a pass to Gerbe, who was camped in front of Mrazek, for the goal by the Detroit native.
The Hurricanes out-shot Detroit, 16-6, in the middle period and held a 34-8 edge through 40 minutes.
CAROLINA 2, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1, Det, Zetterberg (Larkin, Abdelkader), 11:33; 2, Car, Rask (Hanifin), 15:12; 3, Car, Gerbe (Murphy), 19:03.
PENALTIES: 1, Car, E. Staal (interference), 0:39; 2, Det, Pulkkinen (too many men), 1:47; Det, Franzen (holding), 7:28.
SHOTS: DETROIT 6, CAROLINA 16
Needing to ignite the offense, coach Jeff Blashill juggled his line combinations early in the period. The move paid big dividends and Teemu Pulkkinen was the benefactor, scoring twice in a span of 1:57 to give the Red Wings a 3-2 lead.
Despite the slow start in the game, the Red Wings refused to go away and definitely played with more energy after the line changes, scoring thrree goals in the third.
Blashill moved Dylan Larkin off the top line, replacing the rookie with Gustav Nyquist, who was reunited with Zetterberg and Abdelkader. Meanwhile, Larkin, who drew an assist on the captain’s second-period goal, finished the game with Pulkkinen and Tomas Tatar.
Zetterberg’s line gave the Wings a two-goal lead when he made a heady play behind the Hurricanes’ net, finding Abdelkader in the slot for a 4-2 cushion at 16:25.
The top-six forwards all played extremely well in the third period, for the Wings who were still out-shot, 13-11, in the final 20 minutes of regulation. The Hurricanes end the game with a 47-19 edge in shots.
Carolina scored a last-second goal when Faulk scored with 2.1 seconds left.
Larkin finished with a team-high four shots. He had a game-high six shots in Friday’s win over the Maple Leafs.
DETROIT 4, CAROLINA 3
SCORING: 1, Det, Pulkkinen (unassisted), 4:39; 2, Det, Pulkkinen (Tatar), 6:36; 3, Det, Abdelkader (Zetterberg, Nyquist), 16:25; 4, Car, Faulk, PPG (Liles, Versteeg), 19:57.
PENALTIES: 1, Det, Pulkkinen (high-stick), double minor, 19:39.
SHOTS: DETROIT 11, CAROLINA 13