Detroit Red Wings eye quick redemption after opening night loss to Carolina Hurricanes

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
 
| Detroit Free Press

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The good news for the Detroit Red Wings is they get another shot at the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

That’s the best balm that could be applied after the Wings fell flat in their season opener, losing 3-0 on Thursday before empty stands at Little Caesars Arena. The first couple minutes went well, but then the Canes went full tilt against goaltender Thomas Greiss and Dylan Larkin left his first performance as captain knowing he needs to be much better — as do his teammates, if they want to avoid 2021 becoming too much like the disaster that was last season.

“I made a poor mistake with the puck on their first goal,” Larkin said. “They get extended power play time late in the third and capitalize. You take away those two mistakes and it’s a very close hockey game.

“The beauty of it is we come out and we play Saturday and we win, we get two points back on those guys and even it up.”

More: Detroit Red Wings’ opener looks a lot like last season in 3-0 loss to Hurricanes

To do that, the Wings will have to find a way to spend more time around Carolina’s net. Former Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek saw just 11 shots through two periods, and 14 total.

Compare that to the 42 shots Greiss faced. Ryan Dzingel scored on a power play at 17:26 and Andrei Svechnikov slipped the puck into an empty net with 1:05 to play.

“Thomas played well,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He made the big saves at big moments to keep it a 1-0 game. He did the things he needed to do.

“He had to be real good in the third and that’s unfortunate, but he did do a good job.”

That, at least, is a huge positive for the Wings, whose struggles last year partly stemmed from how much Jimmy Howard struggled, forcing the team to rely exclusively on Jonathan Bernier.

Blashill had the scoring chances as even after two periods, but said the Canes had a 10-2 advantage in the third period. One of the worst stats of the evening for the Wings was in the first period, when the Canes won 71% of the faceoffs. It was 60-40 to the Canes at the end of the game, but that’s still too big a disparity.

“They’re a great faceoff team and their D are big and can skate well,” Larkin said. “We have to find a way to generate more shots. We’ve seen Petr Mrazek a lot, being our former teammate, you get traffic on him and he starts scrambling around and there are going to be rebounds and chaos at the net. We have to find a way to make it hard on him and hard on their defense.”

Larkin’s line with Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi was minus-2. On the first goal, Larkin turned the puck over to Sebastian Aho, who passed it to Nino Niederreiter. The line wasn’t effective in the offensive zone.

“I just think the line probably pressed too much,” Blashill said. “We forced too many plays. We tried to make things up that weren’t there and next thing you know, you’re defending.

“In the end it’s all of us and as a group, we have to be better.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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Jeff Blashill breaks down Red Wings’ 3-0 loss to Carolina Hurricanes

Jeff Blashill interview, Jan. 14, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

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