DETROIT -- The Carolina Hurricanes' hopes of playing in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are dashed, but they did something Friday night at Joe Louis Arena they hadn't done in almost 25 years: Beat the Detroit Red Wings in a regular-season road game.
Powered by goalie Cam Ward's 28 saves and aided by numerous squandered scoring chances for Detroit, Carolina snapped a three-game losing skid with a 2-1 victory.
It was the franchise's first regular-season victory in the Motor City since beating the Red Wings 3-0 on Nov. 14, 1989, as the Hartford Whalers. Detroit had won 16 regular-season home games to go with one tie against the Hurricanes/Whalers franchise since.
"Wow, that's pretty cool," said Carolina forward Jiri Tlusty, whose goal at 18:24 of the first period ended up as the game-winner. "That's unbelievable, the stats, how far back they go, but we don't look behind us. It was just a good feeling for the group of guys we have in the dressing room. We stuck together, we played the right way as a team and we finished the game with two points."
Elias Lindholm scored the first goal for Carolina (35-35-11), which concludes its regular season Sunday at the Philadelphia Flyers. Ward picked up the win in his fourth start in the Hurricanes' past 10 games.
The Red Wings simply missed the net on several prime chances, but Ward made a number of good stops to thwart other quality opportunities. He stopped all 20 of Detroit's shots that were on target in the first 40 minutes and turned away a couple of mini-breaks by Tomas Jurco and David Legwand.
"It's a big win for us," Ward said. "Obviously, it would be nicer if we were talking like we were in the playoffs, but we weren't very pleased with the way we finished out last home game [Thursday] night, and it was important for us to rebound and put in a strong effort and be a professional about it."
Rookie center Riley Sheahan scored for Detroit, and goalie Jimmy Howard made 17 saves. The Red Wings (38-28-15) failed to take advantage of the Columbus Blue Jackets' 3-2 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning in their battle for wild-card positioning in the Eastern Conference.
Detroit and Columbus each have 91 points, as do the Philadelphia Flyers, who are in third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Blue Jackets are in the first wild-card spot over the Red Wings because they hold the tiebreaker with four more wins in regulation and overtime. If Columbus gets two points Saturday at the Florida Panthers, the Red Wings will be locked into the second wild card based on the tiebreaker.
The top wild-card team in the East will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, and the second wild card draws the No. 1 seed Boston Bruins.
"I mean, I don't think we're going to pick or choose who we want to play," Sheahan said. "Obviously, either team [we face] is going to be intense, and it will be a lot of fun."
Carolina forward Alexander Semin, injured Thursday against the Washington Capitals, did not make the trip; he has an upper-body injury. The Hurricanes also scratched forward Radek Dvorak with a lower-body injury.
The Red Wings finished with a 29-19 edge in shots. They carried the play early but couldn't get one past Ward before Carolina took a 1-0 lead on Lindholm's goal at 8:15 of the first.
Detroit was called for too many men on the ice to set up a Carolina power play, and Lindholm made the Red Wings pay on the Hurricanes' third shot of the game.
Andrei Loktionov fed a pass down the left wing in the offensive zone to Lindholm, who did the rest at the left side of the net. After Howard slid over to cut off the short-side angle, Lindholm lifted a wrist shot to the far side that traveled just over the Detroit goalie's glove into the net for his ninth goal.
"I saw the [defenseman] was pretty high, so [Loktionov] made a pretty good play, and I just tried to put it at the net," Lindholm said. "It was good to see it go in. Usually, it's pretty closed on the [closest post], so usually I try to go far side. Luckily, it went in."
The Red Wings finished the opening period with an 11-8 lead in shots, but failed to get one past Ward despite several good chances. Gustav Nyquist nearly tied it at 13:15 after some nifty passing in the offensive zone with left wing Tomas Tatar. A return pass from Tatar gave Nyquist the puck in the right circle with Ward on the ice and out of position, but he fired a shot wide of the net that sailed over the goalie's head.
It was one of several times the Red Wings misfired badly.
"Sometimes, even a night like tonight, you can't cheat the system," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "It doesn't work like that. We didn't make it hard enough on them. We didn't have enough net presence, second chances and then just intensity. We had wide-open nets. If you're focused and you're dialed in, you shoot it in the net."
Coming off a shootout loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday that clinched their 23rd consecutive playoff appearance, the Red Wings appeared to get lured out of their typical puck-possession style. That was especially true in the first two periods, when the rush game dominated.
Carolina benefited from the up-tempo style. Babcock and others in the Detroit locker room thought that might've been the result of an emotional letdown following a tough battle to make it into the postseason.
"No question," Babcock said. "[You] might even expect it. That's not an excuse. We have a good enough team to win tonight. We just have to play right. At one point we had a 4-on-3, they had a 3-on-1 [and] we had a 3-on-2. That's not how we play. That's river hockey. That's not how we're going to have success. I was disappointed in the fact that we didn't stick to what we have to do to have success, but it's a good reminder for us too."
Tlusty made it 2-0 with his 16th goal, scored with 1:36 left in the first. After sliding behind Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith on the left wing, he put home a rebound of Eric Staal's long wrist shot from above the right circle.
The score remained 2-0 into the third after Detroit again failed to convert some good scoring chances into goals during the second.
Sheahan finally got the Red Wings on the board 3:43 into the third with his eighth goal, which he scored during a power play by jamming the puck home during a scramble in front of the net. Detroit pushed for the equalizer, but Ward was up for the challenge, winning for the first time since March 22 at the Winnipeg Jets.
The Red Wings will conclude their regular season Sunday at the St. Louis Blues, and the Hurricanes will try to finish on a high note against the Flyers.
"I'm really pleased with our effort," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Apparently, it's been a while since our franchise has won in Detroit, but it started with [Ward] making some great saves, and we really had just a hard-working team effort. It was a well-deserved [win] for us."
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