Bernier, Red Wings hand Canes 4-1 loss

Detroit Red Wings’ Nick Jensen (3) and goalie Jonathan Bernier defend the net in front of Carolina Hurricanes’ Warren Foegele (13) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Detroit Red Wings’ Nick Jensen (3) and goalie Jonathan Bernier defend the net in front of Carolina Hurricanes’ Warren Foegele (13) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) AP

The Carolina Hurricanes are still middling.

After taking a step forward with a complete-game win over Arizona, the Canes took a step back Thursday with a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at PNC Arena.

Nicklas Kronwall had a goal and assist, and Frans Nielsen, Jonathan Ericsson and Dylan Larkin also scored for the Red Wings, who won their second game this season at PNC Arena. Larkin’s goal was a late empty netter, extending his point streak to nine games.

With goalie Jonathan Bernier getting the job done in net, allowing only a goal to rookie forward Andrei Svechnikov in the second period, the Wings ended a four-game losing streak.

The Canes (14-14-5) shut down the Coyotes 3-0 on Sunday as goalie Petr Mrazek earned the shutout. It was Mrazek again Thursday in the third game of the Canes’ five-game homestand, getting another shot at his former team.

Canes captain Justin Williams recently used the word “middling” to describe the team’s static play and the inability to gain any real traction by stringing together wins. Losing to the Red Wings, who were 1-4-1 in their last six games before Thursday, was another roadblock.

The Canes had both Jordan Staal and Micheal Ferland back in the lineup as the two forwards returned from concussions -- Staal missing five games and Ferland three. But the Wings (15-16-5), missing players such as Anthony Mantha, Danny DeKeyser and Mike Green, found a way to win, taking advantage of their scoring chances.

Svechnikov’s goal tied the score 1-1 early in the second period, surprising Bernier with its velocity and accuracy. Moving into the offensive zone, Svechnikov unloaded his shot from the top of the right circle to beat Bernier to the glove side as Justin Faulk and Calvin de Haan picked up assists.

It was Svechnikov’s 10th of the season, his second in as many games and his fourth in the past four games as the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft continues to improve and develop.

And the Canes could have had more. Wings coach Jeff Blashill challenged the goal, claiming the Canes’ Lucas Wallmark was just offsides on the play entering the zone, his skate just off the blue line.

After a lengthy review, Svechnikov’s goal stood and the Wings were penalized for losing the offside challenge. But the Wings limited the damage, allowing one shot on the Canes’ power play.

The Canes then lost another chance to take the lead. Bernier was caught out of position and Teuvo Teravainen was briefly looking at an open net before Bernier scrambled back for a stick-check on Teravainen.

Nielsen then gave the Wings a 2-1 lead, tipping a Nick Jensen shot past Mrazek as Kronwall also earned an assist.

Kronwall’s goal came on a first-period power play. The Canes’ Jordan Martinook attempted to clear but the puck went directly to Kronwall at the point and the veteran defenseman whistled a shot through traffic.

The Canes had the better of the play in the first period, outshooting the Wings 14-7 and creating good offensive looks.

“Good first period, came to play, had plenty of opportunities to probably at least be ahead,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “

But Bernier stopped an open Wallmark shot from the slot. He stopped Sebastian Aho on a partial breakaway -- Aho having his five-game point streak end.

“He came up huge in the first and I thought we got way better as the game went along,” Blashill said of Bernier.

And the Canes’ play fell off.

“We’ve got to keep fighting and stick with it,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s not lack of effort. It’s more trying to do too much and that’s not how we’re built.”

Ericsson’s goal pushed the Canes into a deeper hole and there was no Carolina comeback as the Wings continued to win puck battles and give Bernier help.

The Canes believed they had scored with 5:35 left in regulation, but it was ruled Wings defenseman Filip Hronek got to the puck just before it completely crossed the goal line -- a near-miss for Carolina.

In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.