Wings eclipse last year’s points total on Walman’s late goal vs. Hurricanes

Detroit News

Detroit − They likely aren’t going to make the playoffs and with a depleted lineup and countless injuries, but the Red Wings aren’t rolling over and waiting for the season to end.

Jake Walman blasted a shot from just inside the blue line with 3.2 seconds left in regulation time, giving the Red Wings a 3-2 victory over Carolina.

Walman scored his ninth goal, whistling a shot past goalie Frederik Andersen, and setting off a rousing celebration at Little Caesars Arena.

“Just a good play by Copper (Andrew Copp),” said Walman, noting Copp’s set up. “It’s like a go for broke kind of play. I knew there wasn’t much time left. He made a real good pass and a good screen and it went in. I just came off the bench and knew there was under 10 seconds left. I just go for offense at that point. It was a good look. That was a great pass, it landed right on my stick.”

Coach Derek Lalonde obviously liked the finish, but felt the Wings were playing a good brand of hockey the entire third period.

“Copper off the wall, and the pull up, and obviously a great finish,” Lalonde said. “I just liked our third (period). We had some chances there to finish prior to that. It was a good push.”

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Hurricanes 2

But just as has been the case more than not over the last month, the Wings didn’t go away quiety or easily, and against another quality team.

“Our compete, our battle, our hang in there, that’s a real tough team to play,” Lalonde said. “They funnel everything to the net and it creates scrambles. They’re really disciplined in what they do and hard to play against. We defended fairly well, even the two goals (allowed) were wristers to the net that found the back of the net.

“It’s a good win for us playing an elite team like that. Especially an elite team that is so disciplined in their play.”

Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Larkin (power play) added goals while goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 31 shots of his former Carolina teammates.

Nedeljkovic won his second consecutive game in his third straight start, and is showing the form he displayed most of last season.

“He was competing for sure, and the bottom line is just winning,” said Lalonde, of what he’s seeing from Nedeljkovic. “He was real good throughout. His best hockey was in the second, they had some looks.”

More: Copp returns to Winnipeg as one of Red Wings’ leaders, most consistent players

Nedeljkovic feels he’s gotten into a bit of a groove with the workload of late, with Ville Husso (lower-body) ailing.

“It’s nice to get a couple of games now in a row and get into a rhythm,” Nedeljkovic said. “I’m feeling good. A couple of goals kind of beat me from far, went through me, so there are still a couple of things I’d like to clean up. But overall we did a pretty good job of limiting their quality chances.

“It’s always special playing against your former team, but I’m not anymore excited if it was anybody else I was playing against. They like throwing pucks to the net so sometimes it’s a good stat booster but you can go south pretty quick if you let it.”

The Wings won their second consecutive game over a prospective playoff team, while moving above .500 for the season (33-32-9). With the 75 points, the Wings eclipsed the 74 points they earned last season (32-40-10).

“You want to keep moving from where you were last year, but that’s just a number,” Lalonde said.

Kubalik opened the game’s scoring with his 20th goal.

More: Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde regrets rare ejection: ‘Not the culture of our sport’

Kubalik took a pass from David Perron while gaining speed up ice, carried the puck into the zone, and blasted a shot past goalie Frederik Andersen just 59 seconds into the game.

But Carolina took the lead with two similar goals early in the second period.

Brent Burns tied it 1-1 with his 14th goal, at 42 seconds of the period. Burns took a shot from the point that may have glanced off a Wings’ stick, and got past Nedeljkovic.

Burns’ defensive partner, Jaccob Slavin, made 2-1 Carolina with a similar goal. Slavin took a shot from the point that again may have bounded off a Wings’ player and eluded Nedeljkovic at 4:18, Slavin’s seventh goal.

The Carolina lead held until Larkin’s 28th goal, on the power play.

Alex Chiasson, who continues to spark the Wings’ power play, got control of the puck and created space, then found Larkin open near the hashmarks for a quick snap shot past Andersen at 7:26, a big goal in Lalonde’s estimation.

“Just for the momentum for sure,” Lalonde said. “They had a push and they’re up 2-1, and a team like that, you don’t want to trail very long at all because they’re comfortable just managing their game. The last time they played here, they got ahead 1-0 and literally only had three or four (offensive) chances the entire game. But they’re so comfortable in the lead, so it was very important to immediately score.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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