The Wings couldn’t match the desperation level of a hungry Hurricanes team tonight, who got strong efforts from team leaders and NHL All-Stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward. They live to fight another day with the victory, as they must win out and get help from the teams ahead of them in order to make the playoffs.
Red Wings 0 Hurricanes 3
The first period of this game was one of the more entertaining periods of hockey I’ve seen this year, with both teams trading chances and the two goaltenders standing on their heads to keep the game scoreless. Erik Cole was especially dangerous, with a number of quality scoring chances. On one opportunity, he chipped the puck past 6 time Norris trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom and threw the after-burners on and roared in for a shot on goal. Later, he beat Ericsson to the net and drew a tripping penalty on the play.
Things started to go downhill for the Wings with Justin Abdelkader’s second penalty of the game, as the Hurricanes scored just 33 seconds into the man advantage. It was Derek Joslin’s second goal of the year, and first as a Hurricane. He was dealt to Carolina by the Sharks at the deadline.
Youngster Jeff Skinner became the 7th youngest player in NHL history to record 30 goals in a season, when he beat Jimmy Howard to the left post on a wrap around. The odds-on favorite for the Calder trophy as rookie of the year won’t turn 19 for another month and a half.
Erik Cole made it a three goal game, with Eric Staal picking up his third assist of the night. The ‘Canes captain now has 42 helpers on the season.
From there, it was all Cam Ward, as he made 42 saves in earning the shutout. The former Conn Smythe trophy winner as playoff MVP has rebounded from a tough season for both he and the Hurricanes to post some very nice numbers.
The Wings will look to get back on track with a home and home this weekend with the Chicago Blackhawks to close out the regular season. As of the time of this writing, they are leading the St. Louis Blues 3-2. It could come down to the two games against Detroit to determine whether or not they get in, so look for Detroit to come out strong to deal the knock out punch to their division rivals.
The Wings lost Henrik Zetterberg about halfway through the first period of the game, after a hit from Canes defender Bryan Allen. He left the game and did not return with what the Red Wings are calling a lower body injury. After the game, Mike Babcock could only say that the doctors would be looking at it later and making a determination on his status going forward from there. Any updates I come across will be posted here, so check back here or follow me on Twitter for up to the minute news.
The Off Wing View’s Three Stars
3. Erik Cole 1G - Cole was dangerous all night long for the Hurricanes
2. Eric Staal 3A – Staal is one of the more underrated players in the game today, but his importance to his team is obvious.
1. Cam Ward 42 saves - Perhaps the only player more important to the Hurricanes than Staal is Cam Ward, who was stellar tonight. If he played on a big market team, he would probably be talked about as one of the top goaltenders in the game.