DETROIT – Dougie Hamilton and Nino Niederreiter scored, Alex Nedeljkovic made 25 saves and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Sunday night for their eighth consecutive victory.
Carolina moved into the Central Division lead at 20-6-1, a point ahead of idle Tampa Bay and Florida.
“We’re winning in different ways and everyone’s chipping in,” Niederreiter said. “That’s the key to our success. We needed to play well tonight against a good team and it was a hard-fought fight.”
Anthony Mantha scored his eighth goal of the season for Detroit with just 9.4 seconds left in regulation, spoiling Nedeljkovic’s bid for his second career shutout.
“I think he’s feeling good about his game and when Anthony feels good about his game, good things happen,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s a guy who’s way better when he’s in that confident kind of groove and he seems to be in that right now.”
Although he did not get the shutout, Nedeljkovic got his fourth win in his last four starts, two of them against Detroit.
“I think a lot of it is the guys are going a good job in front of me,” Nedeljkovic said. “They are giving me good lanes and letting me see the puck. When I leave rebounds, they help me out.”
Niederreiter gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead early in the third period, scoring off a pass from Sebastian Aho.
“We had a similar play in the second period where he (Aho) dropped it to me and I passed it back to him,” Niederreiter said. “This time I kind of waited and when the D’s didn’t come to me I had plenty of time to pick a corner.”
Hamilton opened the scoring with 4:47 left in the second period. Instead of passing to Hurricanes scoring leader Aho on a 2 on 1, Hamilton kept the puck and beat goalie Jonathan Bernier from the right circle. He has scored in consecutive games and has an eight-game points streak.
“I’m a defenseman, so while I’m always trying to get into position to score a goal, you can’t always do that,” Hamilton said. “I’ve had a couple posts and crossbars, but now a couple have gone in. I think the important thing is to keep creating opportunities, whether they go in or not.”
Hamilton’s coach was surprised to learn that it was the defenseman’s first career short-handed goal.
“I wouldn’t have guessed that, because he’s always in the play whether it is 5-on-5, power-play or short-handed,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “His instincts are what make him special and then he’s got that great shot. That was obviously a huge, huge play in the game.”
The teams will meet again Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena. The Hurricanes lead the season series 3-1.
“The more I feel we kept the puck and managed it in the right way, we got into the zone, we got set up, they’re a man-on-man team and we caused some havoc in there,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “I think puck management is going to be crucial Tuesday night.”
ON THE MOVE
The Red Wings recalled forward Mathias Brome from the taxi squad. Hurricanes defenseman Jake Gardiner cleared waivers and was assigned to the taxi squad.
Detroit forward Darren Helm played his 717th game, passing Brendan Shanahan for 18th in franchise history.
With his assist on Niederreiter’s goal, Aho took over sole possession of the team lead in points with 25 (10-15-25), moving ahead of Vincent Trocheck (13-11-24), who missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Aho has always scored well against Detroit, with 15 points (6-9-15) in 15 career games.