DETROIT -- For a pivotal 13-second burst, the Detroit Red Wings rediscovered the game that only elite teams can play. What must worry Carolina is they proved they can play the Hurricanes' game, too.
The Red Wings, in danger of going down two games to one of the biggest underdogs in finals history, got goals from Nicklas Lidstrom and Kris Draper 13 seconds apart late in the third period to beat Carolina 3-1 in Game 2 Thursday night and even the best-of-seven series.
Just as it seemed Carolina might force yet another overtime, where the Hurricanes are 7-1 this postseason, the Red Wings found the explosiveness that marked their Presidents' Trophy-winning season and made them such overwhelming favorites going into the finals.
Perhaps just in time, too. The Red Wings had lost three of their last four home playoff games, while Carolina had won six straight road games, including its 3-2 victory in Game 1 Tuesday.
''We told ourselves we had to come out and play a solid third period, keep throwing the puck at the net and hope it goes in on the power play,'' said Kirk Maltby, who scored for the second straight game. ''I like the way we persevered through first couple of periods and didn't get frustrated.''
Game 3 will be Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C., where until now the ACC basketball championship had been the biggest event around.
''The second game is a key game. Even when you get the first one, the second is tough to get,'' said Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, who got his 33rd finals victory, one short of former Montreal coach Toe Blake's record.
Repeatedly denied on excellent scoring chances for more than 50 minutes by Carolina goalie Arturs Irbe and 0-for-6 on the power play until then, the Red Wings finally took the lead when Lidstrom, their Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, one-timed Sergei Fedorov's pass over Irbe's glove and under the crossbar at 14:52 on the power play.
Despite playing a remarkable 34 minutes, 38 seconds on mushy ice and against a physical opponent, Lidstrom said he was fresh in the third period.
''There were a lot of power plays and penalty kills, and I felt energized,'' said Lidstrom, who played more than 68 minutes in the first two games. ''I tried to get the shot up high and it went in.''
It was the only goal by either team on the power play as Detroit was 1-for-8 and Carolina 0-for-8. For the series, Detroit is 2-for-15 and Carolina is 1-for-14.
''We'll leave this game here -- and our power play, too,'' Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.
Seconds after the faceoff following Lidstrom's goal, it was 3-1 as Draper skated down the left wing boards to beat Irbe at 15:05 for his first goal in 16 games, but the second goal of the game by the Red Wings' checking line of Maltby, Draper and Darren McCarty.
''There's not a lot of room out there and they play such a trapping style, this benefits our line. We can go in there and grind it around,'' Maltby said. ''The bottom line is we had to win this game and we did.''
Detroit's desperation didn't surprise the Hurricanes.
''It's a big hole to be down 0-2, so we knew there was going to be a sense of urgency for them,'' defenseman Glen Wesley said.
For the first time since Game 1 of the Minnesota-Pittsburgh finals in 1991, each team scored short-handed in the Stanley Cup finals, and it represented the only scoring in the first two periods.
Maltby, who had only one goal in Detroit's first 18 playoff games, got free on a 3-on-2 short-handed break and beat Irbe with a wrist shot from the right circle at 6:33. Two of Maltby's three playoff goals are short-handed.
Detroit has seven short-handed playoff goals, five more than any other team. Carolina allowed 11 short-handers during the season, the second most in the league.
But, just as in Game 1, the Red Wings couldn't immediately build on the momentum generated by scoring the first goal or the boost given by a Joe Louis Arena crowd of 20,058 that was much louder than in Game 1. In the opener, it almost seemed the fans viewed the finals to be anti-climatic following the pressurized Western Conference finals against defending champion Colorado.
''We were even talking on the bench about how loud it was,'' Draper said.
The crowd couldn't deter Carolina -- which won only 35 of its 82 regular-season games and had the 15th-best record of the 16 playoff teams -- from playing its meticulous, disciplined, unruffled style, and it paid off with the tying goal.
Detroit defenseman Fredrik Olausson was trying to get the puck out of his own end and start a rush when Rod Brind'Amour swept in, stole the pass and skated in undefended on Dominik Hasek. Brind'Amour switched the puck from his backhand to his forehand to force Hasek to go down to defend, then deftly lifted it under the crossbar for his first goal in nine games.
It was the first goal in nearly three weeks for the BBC line of Brind'Amour, Bates Battaglia and Erik Cole, which had 14 goals in Carolina's first two playoff series but was shut out in the Eastern Conference finals against Toronto.
After that, the Hurricanes didn't get a shot for the first 12 1/2 minutes of the second period. As a result, Hasek faced only 17 shots, stopping 16, while Irbe had 27 saves on 30 shots.
Notes: Carolina lost for the first time in eight games it was tied after two periods. Detroit is 3-4. ... Play was stopped briefly in the third period when a fan threw a soft drink -- not an octopus -- onto the ice. ... Detroit has won the last four series in which it has trailed 1-0, but is 0-for-8 in best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals it lost Game 1. ... The Red Wings have killed off 30 of their opponents' last 31 power plays. ... Both teams spoke again of a soft ice surface apparently created by humidity in Joe Louis, one of the NHL's oldest arenas.
Peninsula Clarion ©2014. All Rights Reserved.