Hurricanes tie game late, lose shootout to Red Wings

Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek can’t stop Detroit winger Adam Erne’s shootout attempt in the Red Wings’ 5-4 win Saturday in Raleigh. (Karl B, DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — Sebastian Aho’s late goal forced overtime, but the Hurricanes lost a seven-round shootout to lose 5-4 Saturday to the Red Wings at PNC Arena on Whalers Night.

Martin Necas, Jordan Staal and Dougie Hamilton also scored for Carolina.

Three Thoughts

1. Much like the Senators have been to the Maple Leafs, the Red Wings have found a way to be a thorn in the side of the Hurricanes despite being one of the worst teams in the league.

Six games into this season’s eight-game series between the two teams, Detroit has six points and Carolina has seven. The Red Wings have just 14 wins in 43 games, but three are against the Hurricanes. Is there a reason a lottery team is going toe-to-toe with a Stanley Cup contender?

“They work hard,” Hurricanes coach said of Detroit’s solid play against Carolina this season. “They make you earn everything. That’s about it. I don’t know if it’s any particular thing they’re doing. … They earned their two points tonight.”

2. There was a time when Carolina couldn’t score on Thomas Greiss no matter what they did. Those days are over. The Hurricanes came into Saturday’s game having beaten Greiss five straight starts, and while the German goalie got the win Saturday, he was scored on four times — and all in the same spot. Each of Carolina’s goals beat Greiss (30 saves) in the same spot — over the left pad and under the glove.

Have the Hurricanes finally cracked Greiss and found his weakness?

“I didn’t even notice. I guess that’s right,” Hamilton, who had the third goal, said of all the goals finding the same spot. “We’ll know for next game where to shoot.”

3. Meanwhile, Petr Mrazek’s other-worldly stats took a hit with his first shaky performance since returning from injury. The Red Wings did benefit from some bounces — Staal kicked in a goal credited to Valtteri Filppula, and two of Detroit’s other goals looked to find their way in without the benefit of a Red Wings stick. Mrazek (24 saves) also made two big stops in overtime and saved five of seven shootout attempts.

But Saturday was the first time Mrazek looked beatable. Brind’Amour has never been shy about going with the hot hand in goal, so there may be a slight crack in the door for Alex Nedeljkovic to sneak through seeing that he snapped a two-game losing streak with a shutout Thursday.

Number To Know

3 — Unassisted goals in the game, the first time this season a game has featured that many unassisted goals. Hamilton’s second period unassisted goal was followed by two from Detroit — Filppula’s goal and Adam Erne’s breakaway goal. According to Hockey-Reference.com, there were 24 games so far this season with two unassisted goals.

The Hurricanes now have five unassisted goals on the season: two by Hamilton and one each for Nino Niederreiter, Staal and Vincent Trocheck. Minnesota’s Kevin Fiala has a league-best four unassisted goals this season. Wayne Gretzky (surprise, surprise) holds the record with 13 in 1983-84. Eric Staal’s seven in 2011-12 is the most in season for a Hurricanes/Whalers player.

They Said It

“No, I think it’s better to get two.”

— Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton on if there’s any consolation in Carolina scoring late to earn one point.

Plus

Jaccob Slavin, Hurricanes defenseman — Saturday was one of Carolina’s looser defensive efforts in recent memory, but it wasn’t because of Slavin. The steady defender did what he does best by breaking up several Red Wings chances throughout the night. He earned a secondary assist on Hamilton’s goal and looked like he had another in the third. But his curl around the net and pass to the point that led to Niederreiter’s deflection past Greiss was nullified when Detroit challenged and the officials ruled there was goalie interference.

Minus

Jake Gardiner, Hurricanes defenseman — Gardiner put up the best possession numbers of the night for Carolina, but his one mistake was the most memorable gaffe of the evening.

With the game tied at 3 with just under seven minutes left, Gardiner’s shot from the left point was blocked by Erne. The Red Wings winger raced past Gardiner and converted on the breakaway to give Detroit a late lead. The Hurricanes managed to force overtime, but Carolina needs better decision-making from Gardiner if he is going to be one of the team’s bottom pairing defensemen.