There wasn’t much good to be said Friday about the Carolina Hurricanes’ play against the Detroit Red Wings.
The Canes were beaten 4-1 at PNC Arena, ending a three-game winning streak.
They didn’t manage the puck well, gave up too many odd-man rushes, didn’t win enough puck battles and were outplayed in net.
“They were obviously the hungrier team,” Canes center Jordan Staal said. “There wasn’t enough effort from everyone, including myself, to get us the win.”
With a chance to move past the Philadelphia Flyers and take over the second wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Canes (24-20-8) instead stumbled.
Sebastian Aho did score his team-leading 18th goal. The forward’s power-play score in the first period gave the Canes a 1-0 lead, although it may have given the Canes a false sense of security — playing at home before a crowd of 18,126, scoring first against a team they beat 3-1 in Detroit a couple of weeks ago.
Scott Darling was the starting goalie for the Canes after Cam Ward’s 2-0 shutout of the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. It was Darling’s first game since the nightmarish start against the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 21, when he allowed three goals on eight shots and was lifted 13 minutes into the game.
Darling had some good moments and good stops Friday, but Petr Mrazek was better for the Wings and had 36 saves.
“We gave them too many scoring chances tonight,” Aho said. “(Darling) was good tonight but we didn’t help him enough.”
Aho didn’t think the fresher team won — the Wings topped San Jose 2-1 on Wednesday, then had Thursday off.
“They played a really fast game and we didn’t play our game,” Aho said.
Darren Helm had a goal and two assists for the Wings (21-21-8), scoring in the third period after coming out of the penalty box for a 4-1 lead. Defensemen Danny DeKeyer and Trevor Daley, and forward Gustav Nyquist also had goals.
Aho scored by crashing the net. Justin Faulk’s shot from the point hit Mrazek, the puck bounding up in the air. Aho, closing in on the net, got his stick on the puck just as it was about to cross the goal line.
It was Aho’s second goal in three games since returning from his concussion and lower-body injury.
DeKeyser, who had scored one goal in 32 games, tied it in the first with a shot from the left point.
Mrazek’s biggest save of the game may have been with 2:33 left in the first, denying the Canes’ Joakim Nordstrom on a shorthanded breakaway.
Daley then gave the Wings the 2-1 lead a little more than five minutes into the third as Darling couldn’t track the puck. Nyquist scored off the rush in the third for a 3-1 lead.
“Once they got the lead they clamped things down,” Canes forward Lee Stempniak said.
One of Mrazek’s best stops came when Nyquist, backchecking and trying to stop a centering pass to the Canes’ Haydn Fleury, nearly kicked the puck into the net. But Mrazek stuck out his left pad to make the stop.
Mrazek had 30 saves Wednesday as the Wings topped the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a shootout. He came into Friday’s game 3-0-1 with a 1.02 goals-against average in his past four appearances.
The Canes continue their eight-game homestand Sunday against the Sharks. Many expect Ward to be the starter in that game.