For 59 minutes and change, it looked like it just wasn’t the Detroit Red Wings’ night. Though they had outplayed the Carolina Hurricanes for big chunks of the game, but two unfortunate bounces had them trailing 2-1 and looking like they would leave their 2013-14 road opener in Raleigh without a point.
Thanks to Henrik Zetterberg and Stephen Weiss, the Wings ended up departing PNC Arena with two points. Detroit’s captain bailed out his squad with a dramatic goal just 17 seconds out from the final horn, and one of the team’s key offseason acquisitions scored in overtime to cap off a dramatic 3-2 victory.
The Red Wings trailed 2-0 entering the third period, but got back to within one just 42 seconds in on Justin Abdelkader‘s first goal of the season. A Zetterberg pass deflected off a defender in the Carolina zone and skidded across to Abdelkader, who made no mistake in burying his shot from the left of Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward.
Both teams had chances on the power play in the final frame, but generated few real chances to trouble Ward or Jimmy Howard. Carolina winger Alexander Semin was denied twice by the iron at even strength, finding the outside of the left post and clanging one off the right post just a few minutes later.
Still, the home team’s lead held up until Howard had to be pulled with around 90 seconds to go, and the Red Wings called timeout with 1:17 remaining to get Zetterberg, Weiss, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson, and Niklas Kronwall out with the enpty net. That six-man unit got five shots on goal during the frantic finish, which ended with Zetterberg tying it up. After his initial backhand was blocked, the puck bounced right back to him in the slot, and his spinning wrist shot – his tenth of the night – found the back of the net with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.
The late tally seemed to give Detroit the jump in overtime, and the end came 3:13 in. Franzen crashed his way to the front of the net only to lose the puck at the last moment. But it stayed right in front of Ward, and Weiss was following the play at the perfect time to make his first goal as a Red Wing an overtime game-winner.
The Red Wings were unlucky to need the late dramatics since both Hurricanes goals came on fortuitous bounces for the hosts. Newly signed Radek Dvorak opened the scoring at 13:30 of the first when a puck that slid toward the Detroit net from the blue line ended up just inches away from the stick of the backtracking Kyle Quincey, allowing Dvorak to simply deflect it over a helpless Howard.
Nathan Gerbe scored the other Carolina goal on the power play in the second. His was also a matter of being in the right place at the right time, capitalizing on a shot that deflected off two Detroit players and left him all alone just outside of the Red Wings crease.
Detroit outshot Carolina in every period en route to a 38-25 advantage for the game. The Red Wings were 0-3 on the power play as they continue to search for their first goal with the man advantage of the season, while the Hurricanes converted one of their three PP opportunities.
Though the Wings will probably savor the exciting road victory, they won’t be able to do so for too long. The Stanley Cup runner-up Boston Bruins await on Saturday night prior to the team returning to Joe Louis Arena for home tilts against the Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers next week.
The game was over when:
Not until the very end, fortunately for the Wings. Detroit was able to overcome some stretches of sloppiness with the puck and any frustration they felt from being denied by Ward, and hard work by everyone on the ice with Howard pulled paid off. Weiss also deserved his game-winner, as he’s had some nifty plays in the first 120 minutes of his Red Wings career that just didn’t end in goals.
The unsung Red Wings hero was:
Possibly the goal at one end of PNC Arena for keeping two dangerous Semin shots out. But since a human being deserves to get the honor, we’ll give it to Jakub Kindl, who gave up his body to block three shots and nearly played the hero himself after a nice stickhandling foray not long before Weiss won it.