The first-place team in the Central Division played the last-place team Saturday.
For a long time, it was hard telling who was the better team at PNC Arena. It took overtime and then seven rounds of a shootout to decide it, and the Detroit Red Wings emerged with a 5-4 victory.
Adam Erne. who had scored with 6:20 left in regulation, had the winning shootout goal in the seventh round for the Wings (14-23-6). Goalie Thomas Greiss allowed only a shootout goal to Andrei Svechnikov while Erne and Dylan Larkin scored for Detroit.
Sebastian Aho’s goal, soon after an apparent score was nullified, tied the score 4-4 for the Canes (27-9-4) with four minutes left in regulation. Aho’s 17th of the season came on an unchecked shot from the left circle.
Erne’s goal in the third pushed the Red Wings in front 4-3. Erne first blocked a shot by Canes defenseman Jake Gardiner, raced after the puck and beat goalie Petr Mrazek with a backhander.
The Canes appeared to tie the score with 5:13 left in the third when Nino Niederreiter went to the front of the net to tip in the puck. But Detroit coach Jeff Blashill challenged the score, claiming goalie interference by Niederreiter, and after review it was ruled no-goal as Canes fans booed.
The Canes scored quickly in the first as Martin Necas ripped a shot from the left circle. Playing in their green reverse retro jerseys -- think Hartford Whalers -- they nearly added another as defenseman Jake Bean had a shot glance the crossbar, and pressured goalie Thomas Greiss early in the game.
But the Red Wings responded, taking a 2-1 lead in the first on goals by Larkin and Anthony Mantha. A quick team, they buzzed around Mrazek at times, looking for deflections and quick hitters.
Jordan Staal tied it 2-2 in the first on a shot straight out of the Staal family hockey playbook: a wrister from the right circle that beats the goalie to the far side.
Staal inadvertently contributed a goal for the Red Wings. After Dougie Hamilton gave the Canes the lead in the second, scoring on a shot as he fell over Detroit’s Christian Djoos, the Wings tied it with a fortunate bounce.
Val Filppula was credited with the goal after the puck was knocked around in front of Mrazek and Staal lost sight of it, hitting it through Mrazek’s pads with a skate.
The Canes played a tight, hard-checking style in twice beating the Florida Panthers. But they were looser in the defensive zone Saturday, not as focused and not winning as many board battles.
First period: Tied 2-2
The Canes and Red Wings were tied 2-2 after a first period in which the Canes had a lot of time in the offensive zone and the Red Wings made the most of their chances.
The Canes didn’t take long to take the lead. Martin Necas ripped a shot from the left circle at 1:38 of the first period for his 11th of the season and a 1-0 lead.
The Red Wings didn’t panic, scoring twice for a 2-1 lead. Dylan Larkin scored in tight and Anthony Mantha beat Petr Mrazek with a deflection off an Alex Biega shot.
But Jordan Staal, playing his 999th career game, has tied it 2-2 for the Canes Staal ripped a shot off the rush from the right circle that beat Thomas Greiss to the far side at 14:44. Jordan Martinook and Jaccob Slavin had assists.
Necas had a goal and assist Thursday against Florida but the goal was an empty-netter. Necas’ last goal against a goalie was March 27, when he had two scores against Tampa Bay.
Center Vincent Trocheck assisted on the goal, extending his point streak to seven games, and has points in the last 13 games he has played with seven goals and 11 assists. Dougie Hamilton also had an assist, his team-leading 27th, and has points in 18 of his last 21 games.
The Canes had a chance to add to the lead as Jake Bean had a shot go off the crossbar. But it stayed 1-0.
But the Red Wings, hemmed in their zone early, tied it 1-1 as Dylan Larkin crashed the net and knocked the puck past Petr Mrazek. Larkin’s eighth of the season came at 6:15 of the first. Mantha’s goal was his 11th.
The Wings had the first good scoring chance of the game as Filip Zadina cruised into the zone, but Mrazek had his first stop of the game.
It’s one of those statistics that’s hard to figure: the Hurricanes are 5-0-1 this season against the Florida Panthers, a Central Division contender, but 3-2-0 against the last-place Red Wings.
Consider that the Canes were 27-9-3 heading into Saturday’s game, leading the division, and the Red Wings 13-23-6. The Canes were averaging 3.2 goals a game and have the top power play in the league. The Wings were getting 2.2 goals a game and rank 30th on the power play.
But the Red Wings also can be hard team to figure. Last Sunday, they won at Tampa Bay 5-1. Two games later, at home against the Nashville Predators, the Wings were beaten 7-1.
“We’ve got to be ready tonight. We’ve already lost two games against this team,” Canes forward Jesper Fast said after Saturday’s morning skate at PNC Arena. “We’ve got to be prepared against this team and be ready to go when the puck drops.”
The game will enable the Svechnikov brothers to play against each other again. Andrei Svechnikov of the Canes and Evgeny Svechnikov of the Wings had not been in that position in their hockey careers until this year.
Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and assist in the March 4 game at PNC Arena that the Canes won 5-2, but has scored just two goals in the past 16 games.
It will be Reverse Retro jersey night for the Canes, who will wear their Hartford Whalers lookalikes.
The Canes will have goalie Petr Mrazek starting and James Reimer as the backup as Alex Nedeljkovic has the night off. Mrazek will be making his third start since his return from his thumb injury, having shut out Dallas 1-0 and beaten Florida 5-2 in his previous two starts.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said defenseman Jake Gardiner would be back in the lineup, replacing Haydn Fleury. Gardiner last played March 7 against Florida and has been in two games since Feb. 19 as he has dealt with back issues and tried to work his way back into the mix.
Brind’Amour said he did not expect winger Brock McGinn, who has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, to return during the homestand. He said it was not a “day-to-day” situation.
Brind’Amour said he saw McGinn at PNC Arena on Saturday in an off-ice workout, calling it a “good sign,” but said McGinn was “still a little ways away.”