DETROIT: Nino Niederreiter scored early in the first period and Petr Mrazek had to make just 14 saves for a shutout, helping the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Ryan Ddzingel scored on a power play with 2:34 left and Andrei Svechnikov added an empty-net goal.
Detroit goalie Thomas Greiss made only one save before he gave up a goal, but he stopped 40 shots to give his offensively challenged team a chance for two-plus periods.
The Red Wings, who were easily the NHL’s worst team last season, played for the first time since they lost to Carolina at home on March 10, 2020.
Carolina’s layoff was less than half as long because it played until late in the summer, sweeping the New York Rangers in the playoffs after the pause before being eliminated by Boston five games.
The Hurricanes were dominant in the opener, outshooting Detroit 43-14.
Thanks to Greiss, Carolina didn’t lead by more than a goal until Ddzingel converted late in the third period. Svechnikov’s empty-netter came about a minute later.
Dylan Larkin made his debut as captain of the Red Wings, and his giveaway helped the Hurricanes score first.
Larkin’s backhand pass in his end was picked off by Sebastian Aho, whose pass from the right circle to the left circle set up Niederreiter with open space to score on Greiss 3:38 into the game.
Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Detroit forward Sam Gagner dropped gloves and threw punches much to the delight of players on both teams. Their teammates hit their sticks on the boards and the ice when the brief brawl ended.
The Hurricanes are shooting to make the playoffs in three straight years for the first time since relocating to North Carolina in 1997 from Hartford, Connecticut. Playing the rebuilding Red Wings eight times in 56 games in the pandemic-altered Central Division should help Carolina’s chances.
The Red Wings piped in crowd noise and put red tarps over most of the seats in Little Caesars Arena’s lower bowl, leaving some uncovered to allow up to 250 family members and friends of players, coaches and team employees to attend the game.
Detroit hosts Carolina on Saturday night and both teams will likely use different goaltenders, hoping to manage their workload during a condensed season. The Red Wings’ No. 2 goalie is Jonathan Bernier. The Hurricanes have two other options in net: James Reimer and Anton Forsberg.
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