The Detroit Red Wing took the ice at Joe Louis Arena tonight to play their final regular season home game against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes entered tonight’s game looking for their first ever win at The Joe while the Red Wings looked to build off their emotional playoff clinching overtime loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night and battle for wild card positioning in the Eastern Conference.
It was also Fan Appreciation Night at The Joe tonight and the Detroit loyal were noticeably into the game from the very start. The Wings had a couple of good scoring chances and several good entrances into the Carolina zone early on but they were never able to capitalize on any of their early chances. Detroit was penalized first for Too Many Men after a sloppy line change around seven and a half minutes into the first. Gustav Nyquist served the penalty for Detroit but he wouldn’t be in the box for long. Carolina’s Elias Lindholm quickly opened the scoring up on the power play putting the puck off the post and behind Jimmy Howard less than a minute into the man-advantage and putting the Canes up 1-0.
The Red Wings “Kid-Line” answered Carolina’s opening goal by getting to the puck quickly and creating several good scoring chances, most notably Gustav Nyquist missing a wide open net, but the kids were unable to find the back of the net behind Cam Ward. As the final minutes of the first period came a close it looked and felt like the Wings were going to go into the locker room only down by 1 goal but Jiri Tlusty was able to capitalize on a rebound shot and put Carolina ahead 2-0 as the opening period came to a close.
Tomas Jurco had the first Detroit scoring chance of the second period on a breakaway attempt but Jurco was never fully able to get his shot off as the Carolina defense got away with what would have been a Hooking call during any other game played this season. The “Kid-Line” continued to skate hard and work well as a unit but continued to have no success on their scoring chances. Shortly after the crowd tried to rally the Red Wings with a loud “Let’s go Red Wings” chant around the 6 minute mark, Carolina’s Ron Hainsey was called for Tripping which gave Detroit their first power play opportunity. Again, the Red Wings had some decent scoring chances on the first power play but Cam Ward continued to a brick wall between the pipes and turned aside all of Detroit’s attempts.
Halfway through the second period Jimmy Howard and Jakub Kindl teamed up for two huge back-to-back saves which kept Carolina’s lead to only two goals. The pair was treated to a well deserved cheer of appreciation from the 20,000 strong sitting in the stands after play was stopped. The second period ended just like the first with the Red Wings down 2-0.
The third and final period saw Coach Babcock shuffling the lines trying to spark some offensive production. In what seemed to be the reoccurring theme of the evening, the Red Wings skated hard and continued to get quality scoring chances but were continuously denied by Cam Ward. Detroit would finally get on the scoreboard after Riley Sheahan scored on the power play after Jay Harrison was penalized for Slashing.
Carolina didn’t record their first shot of the third period until roughly the 10 minute mark and they would only go on to have 4 total shots on goal in the entire final period of play. Despite their lack of total shots, it was Cam Ward’s goaltending that allowed the Hurricanes to hold the Red Wings to only 1 goal and get their first win in Detroit since November of 1984 when they were known as the Hartford Whalers.
Sure, it was a disappointing loss because the Red Wings had more than their fair share of quality scoring chances, but am I disappointed? Not really. Being a Red Wings fan who was born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania I’d love to see the Wings get the first wild card spot and go into Pittsburgh and eliminate the Penguins in the first round, but I personally believe we’ve got a better shot against the Bruins. Maybe I’m wrong and we would match up better against the Penguins, all I know is that no matter what happened tonight, we are in and we have already been guaranteed a ticket to the big dance.
Don’t lose any sleep over this one Hockeytown, the playoffs are coming no matter what.