The Detroit Red Wings are playing the role of spoilers this week (along with trying to earn the second seed in the West), but their loss against the Carolina Hurricanes might end up spoiling things for them, instead. That’s because they lost their highest scoring forward in Henrik Zetterberg, who left tonight’s game with a lower body injury.
Zetterberg was shaken up by a Bryan Allen hit during the first period and did not return to the game.
That’s the risk you take when you play your best players against a desperate team, as Cam Ward and the Hurricanes shut out the Red Wings 3-0 to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Derek Joslin started things off with a second period goal, while Jeff Skinner and Erik Cole also found the twine in a huge game at home. Eric Staal made his presence felt in a game some worried he might miss, earning assists on every tally.
Jimmy Howard was solid in keeping the Red Wings in the game, but Ward stole the show for his team by stopping all 42 Detroit shots. I’ve said this before, but it must be mentioned again: Ward would put up truly elite numbers if he played for a more defensively responsible team.
This win leaves the Hurricanes at 89 points with two games left, keeping themselves in the hunt for one of the two final Eastern playoff spots with the seventh place Buffalo Sabres (92 points with two games remaining) and the eighth place New York Rangers (91 points with two games left). We’ll provide a little more insight about the team’s chances in a post later tonight.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear how severe Zetterberg’s injury is, but losing him would be a very tough thing for the Red Wings to handle. The Swedish star is quietly leading the team with 80 points this season (good for eighth in the league), as the team leaned on him more than usual thanks to Pavel Datsyuk’s periodic injuries. Hopefully the Jared Leto lookalike will be day-to-day at worst.
This loss keeps Detroit in third place in the West, with one less point and one less game remaining than the second place San Jose Sharks. Still, Zetterberg missing an extended period of time would be a much, much bigger loss.