It didn’t matter that the Detroit Red Wings played a home game Saturday night, then flew to Raleigh, arriving at 1:30 a.m.
It didn’t matter that the Wings gave their backup goalie, Petr Mrazek, his third start of the season.
Nor did it matter that the Wings faced the Carolina Hurricanes on the Canes’ home ice Sunday at PNC Arena, in game that had extra meaning for Canes coach Bill Peters.
The Wings methodically defeated the Hurricanes 3-1 as Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and two assists, Tomas Tatar scored twice and Mrazek calmly got the job done in net with 34 saves.
It was Peters’ first game as an NHL head coach against Wings coach Mike Babcock, his former college coach, longtime friend and mentor. Peters served the past three seasons as an assistant on Babcock’s staff before getting the Hurricanes job in June.
As a Wings assistant, Peters often marveled at the skills of Datsyuk. He again was impressed Saturday after watching the Wings top the New York Rangers 3-2 and seeing the work done by the line of Datsyuk, Tatar and Darren Helm.
“It scared me. I thought that line was dominant,” Peters said. “(Helm) is healthy and jumping and doing a lot of the heavy lifting and playing with speed and hard on pucks. And Pavel has a little twinkle in his eye and looks like he’s healthy and dominates on the puck.
“… When he’s playing well he’s one of the best in the world, if not the best.”
The Wings (17-6-5) struck for two goals in the last four minutes of the first period as Datsyuk whipped a shot through traffic that beat Canes goalie Cam Ward, and Tatar scored on a shot that glanced off Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera in front of Ward.
Tatar’s second goal, off a sweet pass from Datsyuk, boosted Detroit’s lead to 3-0 in the second before the Canes finally beat Mrazek late in the period as Jay McClement redirected Tim Gleason’s point shot for his first of the season.
The Canes (8-15-3) outshot the Wings 35-22 as Jeff Skinner accounted for 10 shots. Peters said Skinner was “dangerous” but said the Canes didn’t crowd Mrazek enough around the crease.
“We just couldn’t seem to get enough pressure sustained shift after shift,” McClement said.
Another concern: Canes captain Eric Staal suffered a foot injury late in game after being hit by a shot by Justin Faulk. Staal was on crutches after the game and Peters was not sure about his status for Monday’s game against the New Jersey Devils that ends the Canes’ five-game homestand.
Canes forward Andrej Nestrasil was drafted by the Wings in 2009 and made his NHL debut with Detroit this year. Waived by the Wings in November, he was claimed by the Canes.
Nestrasil and Mrazek both are natives of the Czech Republic, played together in the American Hockey League and have been roommates on the road.
“He’s an NHL-ready goalie,” Nestrasil said. “Obviously their (defense) always tries to make it easier for him, but he keeps proving that he belongs there.”
“I bet for fans it’s just unbelievable watching him,” Nestrasil said. “He’s one of a kind, that’s for sure.”