Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour sounded a bit wary Saturday in talking about his team’s six-game homestand.
“We seemed to have had these over the years, right about this time of the year, and for whatever reason haven’t done enough with it,” he said after the Canes’ morning skate.
Winning the first game is critical, Brind’Amour said, noting, “You get one and then it sets up the next one. If you don’t, you’re chasing that part of it.”
The Canes did not get the first one against the Detroit Red Wings, who rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period and then won 4-3 in a shootout decided by Frans Nielsen’s goal.
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Anthony Mantha scored a pair of goals about three minutes apart in the third period to pull the Wings even at 3-3 and eventually force overtime.
Canes goalie Scott Darling made two spectacular post-to-post saves in overtime to give Carolina a chance to win in a shootout at PNC Arena.
“I’ve got to make a save there in the third period,” Darling said.. “It’s a tough one to lose.”
The Wings have won six of their past seven games overall, and now have won 17 of their past 19 shootouts.
Goalie Jonathan Bernier, who had 49 saves, faced Jaccob Slavin, Brock McGinn and Sebastian Aho in the shootout, denying all three. Nielsen, up second for the Wings, now has 23 career game-deciding goals in shootouts.
Until the Wings (7-8-2) made their push in third the Canes (7-7-3) were putting together a solid team game. Darling was making keys saves at key times. All four lines had contributed. The defensemen were active. The Canes had the edge in special teams.
“I didn’t like our third period at all,” Brind’Amour said. “We took our foot off the gas and it cost us. The mental challenge of rising up every shift is what we’re going to have to learn. We still take a breath. And we’re not good enough to take breaths. We’re just not.
“That’s the mental toughness part. These lessons hurt but at some point I think we’ll get it.”
Andreas Athanasiou, a dynamic offensive player, gave the Wings a 1-0 lead in the first with a heavy one-timer. But McGinn tied it for the Canes in the first, Micheal Ferland’s power-play goal gave Carolina the lead in the second period and defenseman Dougie Hamilton made it 3-1 with three minutes left in the second.
Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen both had assists on the Ferland and Hamilton goals -- Aho’s 16 assists rank among the NHL leaders.
The Canes outshot the Wing 52-32 as center Lucas Wallmark had a career-high eight and linemates Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Martinook five each.
“We had so many chances to win that game,” Aho said.
For the eighth time this season, the Canes faced the opponent’s backup goalie as Bernier was in net for the Wings, who rallied to beat the New York Rangers in overtime on Friday.
The Canes topped the Wings 3-1 on Oct. 22 in Detroit, but Brind’Amour noted they were a better, more polished team that came into PNC Arena.
Both teams looked to push the pace, even with the Wings playing on back-to-back nights.
Trailing 3-1 in the third, the Wings first killed off an Mantha penalty, then made it 3-2 as Mantha, fresh out of the penalty box, scored. The Wings kept pressuring, as Mantha again scored at 9:02 of the third..
Until that point, the Canes had played well. Brind’Amour has found a fourth line to his liking with Clark Bishop centering McGinn and Phil Di Giuseppe -- Bishop and Di Giuseppe recently recalled from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.
McGinn’s goal came off the forecheck, after the puck glanced off the leg of Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser and McGinn buried the shot.
Ferland’s goal came off perfect timing with Aho on the power play, Aho finding Ferland in the slot and Ferland tipped the puck past Bernier for his eighth goal of the season.
Some hustling play in the offensive zone by Teravainen first freed up Aho for a point-blank shot that Bernier stopped. But Hamilton roared in to backhand the puck past Bernier.