The Hurricanes’ winning streak ended at eight games with a 4-2 loss to the Red Wings on Tuesday in Detroit. Nino Niederreiter and Sebastian Aho scored for Carolina, but Adam Erne’s had two first-period power play goals and Robby Fabbri scored the game-winner just past the game’s midway point.
1. A 4-2 loss to the bottom-feeding Red Wings might seem like the perfect opportunity to talk about a wake-up call for a team that got a little too big for its britches during an eight-game winning streak.
The numbers don’t support that hypothesis.
Carolina dominated even-strength possession throughout the night, posting nearly identical numbers in the three periods while finishing with a 63.77% Corsi For share, though the Red Wings were credited with a 6-5 edge in high-danger chances for the game.
“We had our looks 5-on-5,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I thought we were fine. We didn’t give up a heck of a lot.”
Particularly good was the line of Niederreiter, Aho and Martin Necas. The trio had the bulk of Carolina’s best chances and scored the team’s lone even-strength goal when a bobbing-and-weaving Necas skittered through the Detroit zone and found Aho for a one-timer that tied the game 1:50 into the middle frame.
“I just feel like we’re kind of similar players so maybe we think the game a little bit similar,” Necas said of his brewing chemistry with Aho. “And of course that helps. We didn’t play that many games so far together, but we’re getting there.”
2. And then there’s the special teams. The Hurricanes did manage to convert on the power play when Niederreiter tapped in a nice feed from Jesper Fast to open the scoring just 2:21 into the game, keeping up their 30% pace with a 1-for-3 effort and making it 13 goals with the man advantage in the last nine games.
The penalty kill, however, wasn’t as successful, allowing goals on each of Detroit’s first two opportunities — Erne’s fourth and fifth goals of the year — on a night when the Hurricanes took six penalties.
“We didn’t win the special teams war,” Brind’Amour said. “We gave up those two early — that’s hard to come back from when you give up two on the penalty kill. Our power play, we got one but it wasn’t that good. We had other opportunities and didn’t really execute correctly, and that’s the game right there.”
3. As if the Hurricanes weren’t thin enough at forward, Warren Foegele left the game early in the second period after a hit from Detroit’s Filip Zadina. Carolina is already without Teuvo Teravainen and Vincent Trocheck, and losing Foegele would mean the Hurricanes would have to dip even deeper into their system.
Brind’Amour said he didn’t have an update on Foegele and that the winger took himself out of the game.
If Foegele misses any time, Carolina will need to find another forward for its lineup. Both Sheldon Rempal and Drew Shore played with Carolina coming out of the team’s COVID-19 pause, but neither was particularly noticeable — Rempal had three shots on goal in as many games; Shore had one shot and a minor penalty in his one game — in their brief stints.
If this happened a couple weeks ago, the Hurricanes could have given Seth Jarvis a short-term look. But last year’s first-round pick is back with Portland of the WHL awaiting the start of the Winterhawks’ season after a dominating nine-game stint with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves that saw him score seven goals and total 11 points.
David Cotton is also a possibility and could be a more palatable rookie since he’s already 23 with an NHL frame.
Number To Know
11 — Shots on goal for Dougie Hamilton, a new career-high. His previous high was nine on Feb. 26, 2019, in Carolina’s 6-1 win over the Kings, and he had eight three other times in his career, including last month’s 5-3 home win over Chicago.
They Said It
“I don’t think we were under pressure. I think it’s way worse if you’re on a losing streak. Then you’re under pressure, you need to win.”
— Hurricanes forward Martin Necas on if Carolina’s eight-game winning streak, which was snapped in the loss, brought on any added pressure.
Martin Necas, Hurricanes forward — The 22-year-old continues to emerge as a game-breaking threat, and his assist on Carolina’s second goal was a thing of beauty.
Necas started in the Carolina end and accelerated through the neutral zone, dashing into the Red Wings end. He then cut left, leaving Detroit captain Dylan Larkin spinning in his wake, pulled up and zipped a pass to Aho at the far faceoff circle for a one-timer that beat Jonathan Bernier (35 saves) to tie the game early in the middle frame.
Necas now has nine points in his last eight games, seven of which have come at even strength. He played 19:34 on Tuesday, the fourth time this season he’s eclipsed 19 minutes and the first time since Feb. 2. His 0.8 points per game (20 points in 25 games) this season is behind only Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee (0.96 points per game) and Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson (0.81) among forwards 22 and under. Teammate Andrei Svechnikov is at 0.79 points per game after being held off the score sheet Tuesday.
James Reimer, Hurricanes goalie — It was a rough outing for Reimer, who seemed to be fighting the puck all night long. Reimer (24 saves) had actually put together a decent March after a dreadful February that saw him post an .892 save percentage and 3.30 goals-against average despite a 6-3-0 record. But Tuesday felt like a step back and further raises questions about who will be Carolina’s second goalie whenever Petr Mrazek is ready to return.