Detroit — On nights like these you, again, can see how the Red Wings are making some progress.
It may not be the huge steps some fans want to see. It’s gradual and doesn’t come with a long, consistent string of victories.
But it’s there, proven Tuesday in a 4-2 victory over Carolina.
With victories over Carolina and defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay in the last three games, the Wings scored wins against two of the best teams in the NHL.
Furthermore, the Wings are now 2-3-0 against the Hurricanes this season, competitive against one of the NHL’s best teams.
So, there’s some progress. Playing well enough to compete, and occasionally win, against some of the NHL’s best.
Adam Erne had two first period power play goals, and Robby Fabbri, off a brilliant end-to-end dash from Dylan Larkin, scored for the Wings (9-17-4) while Filip Hronek clinched things with an empty net goal with 25 seconds left (Hronek’s first goal this season, and first goal in 47 games).
Larkin was a game-time decision to play, but looked more than fine, particularly on that play.
Larkin got a pass from Marc Staal, then gained steam as he roared down the ice, before finding Fabbri near the hashmarks. It was Fabbri’s sixth goal, at 12:28 of the second period, giving the Wings a 3-2 lead.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 34 saves for the victory.
Nino Niederreiter (power play) and Sebastian Aho scored for Carolina.
Coach Jeff Blashill talked after the morning skate Tuesday about what makes Carolina such an effective team.
“They don’t beat themselves,” Blashill said. “They’re a good team without a doubt. They play to a good identity. They manage the puck well, get the puck out of their zone and get the puck into the neutral zone. They don’t overcomplicate things. They keep it pretty simple and it’s been a real formula for success for them.
“When teams are confident, they’re real good. They’re at the top of their game, so it’s hard to out play them.”
The Hurricanes (20-7-1) saw their eight-game win streak come to an end.
Aho tied the game 2-2 at 1:50 of the second period, with his 11th goal. Martin Necas made a nifty stickhandling play just inside the circle, then threaded a pass across the seams to Aho, who one-timed a shot past Bernier from the dot.
Erne got the Wings going with the first two power-play goal game of his career.
After Carolina had taken a 1-0 lead on Niederreiter’s power-play goal, Erne tied it just over a minute later.
Erne got to a rebound near the hashmarks and snapped a shot past Reimer at 3:35, taking some of Carolina’s momentum from the early goal.
Then, later midway in the period, Erne snapped the tie with his fifth goal.
Larkin found Erne alone between the hashmarks, and Erne one-timed a shot past Reimer at 12:11, giving the Wings a 2-1 lead.
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