Detroit coach praises team after 4-1 win over Carolina for taking step in the right direction. Ted Kulfan
Raleigh, N.C. – You have to admit, it’s at least getting a bit more intriguing.
Maybe a week or two ago, the Red Wings’ season appeared bleak as could be.
The playoffs were a long shot, at best. The season couldn’t end quick enough.
But, suddenly, at least from the perspective of a wild-card spot, it doesn’t look as bleak.
Friday’s 4-1 victory over Carolina put the Red Wings within six points of tying Philadelphia for the second wild-card spot (56-50 points), seven from passing the Flyers.
There are three teams ahead of the Red Wings (21-21-8, 50 points) – Carolina (56), New York Rangers (55) and New York Islanders (55) — all playing mediocre hockey the past couple weeks.
Suddenly, if the Red Wings can continue this post-All-Star break surge, who knows?
“Obviously there’s still some work to do but six points, that can swing pretty quick in today’s game with the scheduling,” said Danny DeKeyser, who had one of the Red Wings’ goals. “You just have to keep grinding it out and get points. Just keep playing the way we are and hopefully it works out for us.
“We have to keep beating teams like we did tonight that are ahead of us in the standings. It helps.”
Red Wings goalie commends the support he's getting in front of the net after Detroit's 4-1 win over Carolina. Ted Kulfan
Goaltender Petr Mrazek continued his turnaround Friday with 36 saves, and the Red Wings continue to get offense from the back end with DeKeyser and Trevor Daley scoring goals, and Gustav Nyquist and Darren Helm (who also had two assists) added third-period insurance goals.
The Red Wings had 38 shots on net, another busy night from that perspective, and looked faster than the usually quick Hurricanes.
From start to finish, it was one of the more competitive and effective, Red Wings wins this season.
“It was as complete effort as we’ve had in my opinion,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Just the effort, in all facets of the game. The compete level, the hungry at the net. It was as hungry as we’ve been at the net.
“But it has replicated on a consistent basis.”
The Nyquist goal gave the Red Wings some breathing room.
Henrik Zetterberg made a great save stripping the puck from Carolina defenseman Haydn Fleury, igniting the rush the other way.
Nyquist beat goalie Scott Darling high glove save at 7:45 of the third period, making it a 3-1 game.
Zetterberg’s assist moved him into fifth place alone on the Red Wings’ all-time assist list with 605 — Pavel Datsyuk has 604.
Helm made it 4-1, scoring his fifth goal, a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box and ripping a slap shot past Darling at 13:48.
Helm hasn’t been the most effective breakaway scorer in his career, so the good, hard shot on net was a different way to scoring.
“I made that move because I’ve struggled putting the puck in the net by making moves,” Helm said. “Just dumbing it down a little bit and it worked out.”
Helm, too, noticed the Red Wings playing with a purpose and speed.
“We can be real fast and effective team when we use that speed,” Helm said. “We haven’t shown it all season but the last couple of games, this game especially, we did a good job of using our speed to our advantage, getting pucks to the net and just creating chances.”
Detroit captain commends teammates on how they bounced back after going down 1-0 to win 4-1 against Carolina. Ted Kulfan
Then, there’s Mrazek's continued fine play, having won five of his seven decisions (5-1-1).
Mrazek stopped Joakim Nordstrom on a short-handed breakaway with the game tied 1-1 in the first period, and made other key saves at crucial moments.
“One thing Petr has proven for sure is he can get hot and go on a roll,” Blashill said. “He’s done a good job of making big saves at big moments and that’s been when he’s at his best, making big saves at big moments.”