Red Wings can’t muster offense in shutout loss to Hurricanes

Detroit News

Detroit — The first game back after a long road trip is generally a difficult one.

That turned out to be the case Tuesday for the Red Wings, although the quality of the opponent also had a lot to do with it.

The Carolina Hurricanes, one more time, showed why they’ve become an annual Stanley Cup contender with a 1-0 victory over the Red Wings.

The Wings (13-9-6) saw their winless streak extend to three games, with a game Wednesday arriving in quick fashion in Minnesota.

BOX SCORE: Hurricanes 1, Red Wings 0

Goaltender Ville Husso stopped 26 shots but got no help offensively, as the Wings failed to convert on three power plays (all in the second period) and 27 shots on Carolina goalie Pyotr Kochetkov.

Brady Skjei (power play) had the Carolina goal in the first period.

The Wings were without captain Dylan Larkin for most of the second half of the game after he appeared to hurt himself blocking a shot.

Larkin immediately headed to the locker room as he skated off the ice, his last shift occurring late in the second period on the Wings’ third power play. Larkin appeared to hurt his left hand early in the game blocking a shot, and possibly a right hand in the second period that forced him out of the game.

Larkin played 11 minutes, 33 seconds total, with two shots on net.

Ironically, the Wings have already lost Tyler Bertuzzi (twice), Elmer Soderblom and Filip Zadina this season, for varying lengths of time, because of blocking shots.

The Wings are already without Bertuzzi, Zadina, Jakub Vrana (NHL/NHLPA assistance program) and Robby Fabbri (knee) among the forwards. Soderblom was reassigned to Grand Rapids for a conditioning stint last week.

Kochetkov raised his record to 7-1-4, as the Hurricanes (16-6-6) continue sitting near the top of the Eastern Conference.

The Hurricanes opened the scoring with Skjei’s power-play goal in the first period.

Seth Jarvis got the puck near the goal line and unleashed a spin-around backhand pass to Skjei pinching from the point. Skjei went high on Husso, Skjei’s fifth goal, at the 17:20 mark.

The Wings had three power plays in the second period, Carolina’s Brent Burns twice went off for hooking, but the Hurricanes’ aggressive penalty kill and good work from Kochetkov kept the Wings off the scoreboard.

The Wings had good looks on their power plays, particularly the second one, but the Hurricanes kept most everything to the outside and Kochetkov saw nearly every shot cleanly.

After a 2-1-1 road trip in which the Wings won in Tampa and earned a tie in Dallas, there was hope they could regularly compete against the elite teams in the league.

In fact, there was a theme of increased expectations, and not being satisfied with just competing and not winning.

“We’ve been consistent with our game, especially of late,” coach Derek Lalonde said after the Dallas loss. “The Florida game was an outlier (the only regulation loss on the trip, a bad Wings loss) where we hadn’t played that poorly in a while, we lost a lot of battles, and we didn’t compete.”

Lalonde is also, and has been, preaching consistency. The road trip was a good example of the Wings beginning to string together competitive all-around games.

Even Tuesday, the Wings were even or had the edge in zone time for stretches of the game against the Hurricanes.

“Prior to the road trip, we struggled against some of the elite teams in this league,” Lalonde said. “We, for the most part outside of the Florida game, competed pretty well in Dallas and Tampa.”

Twitter: @tkulfan

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