As it turned out the Red Wings had enough players Saturday to face the powerful Carolina Hurricanes, never mind all the rumors swirling around the trade deadline.
And, yes, the Wings responded well after being embarrassed Thursday against Nashville.
And they still had Adam Erne.
The red-hot Erne scored a third-period goal, then scored the tie-breaker in the shootout, as the Wings defeated Carolina, 5-4.
Erne and Dylan Larkin scored in the shootout, as the Wings won the eight-round shootout, 2-1.
In all, a gutty outing by the Wings.
“We have a lot of character in this room,” Erne said. “We have a great group of guys. We obviously got embarrassed last game, and I was real happy with the way we played tonight, other than the first 10 minutes.
“We played some strong hockey.”
Coach Jeff Blashill has credited the Wings with the way they’ve handled adversity multiple times this season, and Saturday was another example of character.
“It was a real gritty effort,” Blashill said. “They came out and took it to us early, but we answered with a couple of goals and as the game went along, our compete level was excellent.
“I give our guys credit. They dug in and there were pushes back and forth, they are one of the best teams in the league, but our guys did a real good job.”
Erne, who continued his unexpected breakthrough offensive season with his 10th goal, gave the Wings a 4-3 lead.
Erne blocked a shot, tracked down the puck while out-skating two Hurricanes trailing, and backhanded a shot over Carolina goaltender Petr Mrazek at 13:40, breaking the 3-3 tie.
“Adam has good hands, and he scored in junior and in the American League, and I know it’s a big reason (general manager) Steve (Yzerman) made the trade a year ago because there was something in him in terms of offense,” Blashill said.
But Sebastian Aho answered it — after another apparent Carolina goal was erased on interference on goaltender Thomas Greiss — tying the score 4-4 at the 16 minute mark.
Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Wings (14-23-6), while Martin Necas, Jordan Staal and Dougie Hamilton answered for the Hurricanes (27-9-4).
Trade speculation surrounds the Wings right now.
The Wings dealt defenseman Patrik Nemeth Friday to Colorado (for a 2022 fourth-round pick), then helped broker a trade between Tampa Bay and Columbus, earning a 2021 fourth-round pick from Tampa for their assistance.
Defenseman Jon Merrill was a healthy scratch Saturday, with speculation swirling he’ll be headed elsewhere (Boston, New York Islanders, among others) before Monday’s 3 p.m. (EST) deadline.
Forwards Sam Gagner, Luke Glendening and Darren Helm, and goaltender Jonathan Bernier have also been linked to possible deals in what could be a dramatic sell-off by the team.
The Wings, per various salary cap-centric websites, have financial flexibility to take on one more salary to either broke, or complete, a trade.
Add to the fact Robby Fabbri, Gagner and Bobby Ryan (upper body, out for season) were all out of the lineup with injuries, and it was a makeshift lineup.
But the Wings rallied from a disappointing game Thursday with a gutsy effort.
“Our response was real good,” Blashill said. “We didn’t play flawless and not make mistakes and do everything we wanted to do, but I do think our compete level was way better (from Thursday).”