Detroit Red Wings come up short against shorthanded Carolina Hurricanes, 5-3

Detroit Free Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — After all the pregame concern over how COVID-19 protocol would impact the home team, the Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes looked full of vigor.

They put on an entertaining and energetic performance before fans at PNC Arena on  Thursday, scoring a combined five times in the first period.

The 5-3 final did not reflect well on the Wings: They are used to losing on the road, where they are 4-10-1, but Thursday brought a loss to a team that couldn’t even field a standard lineup.

Alex Nedeljkovic made 29 saves in his first game against his former teammates, who did their best to countermand COVID-19.

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With six players, including top performers Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho, in COVID-19 protocol and two injuries, the ‘Canes were down to 16 skaters. The Wings had 18 skaters, but they were the ones playing catchup, needing goals from Sam Gagner, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi to make it 3-3 after two periods.

Nino Niederreiter scored his second of the game 18 seconds into the third period, beating Nedeljkovic short side. The ‘Canes used the momentum to take control of the game, leaving the Wings scrambling to counter attack. Nedeljkovic was pulled twice in the final minutes, but ultimately it was the Wings (14-13-3) who came up short. Vincent Trocheck found the empty net with 4.8 seconds to play.

A patched lineup

With Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen entering protocol Wednesday, the Wings opted to dress 11 forwards and seven defenseman. Marc Staal, who exited protocol Monday, had not played since Dec. 4 and was the seventh D. Forwards Pius Suter and Vladislav Namestnikov formed the core of the second line, with other skaters subbing on and off. Joe Veleno returned after being a healthy scratch Tuesday, centering Filip Zadina and Adam Erne. Kyle Criscuolo and Taro Hirose were healthy scratches.

A wild welcome

Nedeljkovic received a warm welcome from fans when he was shown on the scoreboard about midway through the first period. By then, the ‘Canes already had scored on their former rookie of the year finalist. Niederreiter converted while Bertuzzi was in the penalty box for a hooking call; that came just 2:05 after puck drop. Gagner responded to that by shooting a puck that went bar down, at 5:32. Tony DeAngelo scored two minutes later — the puck bounced off the glass and near the crease, and he pounced before Nedeljkovic could get to the puck. Jack Drury scored with 1:20 to play in the first period when he poked in his own rebound.

A toss and a tuck

Raymond picked up his 16th assist when he set up Larkin. Larkin caught the pass, quickly tossed the puck to the ice and got it onto his stick, then strode in and slipped a backhand under Frederik Andersen’s pads. Raymond picked up another assist in the second period when he set up Bertuzzi’s goal. Bertuzzi had the puck behind the net and went for the wrap-around attempt; officials used video review to determine Bertuzzi had tucked the puck across the goal line.

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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