DETROIT – Nicklas Lidstrom’s return turned the Detroit Red Wings into winners again.
Detroit was on the brink of its longest losing streak in 21 years, but Drew Miller scored with 8:25 left to help the Red Wings rally from three goals down and snap a six-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
Detroit hasn’t lost seven straight since Jan. 14-30, 1991, the season before Lidstrom joined the Red Wings. He wasn’t around for this skid, either, because of an injury that forced him to miss 11 games before Saturday.
“We’re happy with the win, that’s for sure,” Lidstrom said. “We haven’t been playing well.”
It looked as thought the Red Wings were headed for another loss when Carolina led 4-1 late in the second period, but they had other plans.
“They’ve got some world-class guys and they taught us a lesson,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said.
Henrik Zetterberg scored his second goal with 3:02 left in the second period and Todd Bertuzzi scored 18 seconds later to pull Detroit within a goal entering the third.
Jiri Hudler tied the game midway through the final period, and Miller netted the winner 3 1/2 minutes later.
“It’s a game we knew we needed, not just for the standings, but just to feel good again,” Miller said.
The Red Wings were leading the Western Conference before injuries began to pile up, leading to losses that have left them hoping to have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The banged-up team got a boost by the return of Lidstrom, the captain and standout defenceman who was sidelined because of a bone bruise on his right ankle.
“I was a little sluggish and rusty in the first, but you have to battle through it to get your legs going again,” Lidstrom said. “It’s going to linger for a while, but I can play with it.”
Detroit scratched goalie Jimmy Howard, centres Johan Franzen and Darren Helm, and defenceman Jonathan Ericsson because of injuries.
The Hurricanes have lost two straight after winning four in a row, hurting their slim chances of getting into the Eastern Conference playoffs. They got off to a great start in the first two periods.
Jiri Tlusty scored the first of his two goals 17 seconds into the game, and Chad LaRose had a goal 26 seconds into the second period to put Carolina ahead 2-0.The first of Zetterberg’s two goals pulled Detroit within a goal early in the second.
“They seemed to get some life and jump after their first goal,” Carolina’s Eric Staal said. “The Zetterberg line got hot.”
Both teams scored twice in less than 2 minutes late in the second period.
Jamie McBain and Tlusty scored 17 seconds apart to put Carolina up 4-1. A minute later, Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi had goals 18 seconds apart to pull the Red Wings within a goal entering the third period.
Detroit rallied to take the lead and held on for another win at home against Carolina. The Hurricanes haven’t won a regular-season game in Detroit since 1989 when the team was the Hartford Whalers.
“We showed a lot more desperation,” Lidstrom said. “We showed a lot of character in the second period. We could’ve gone the other way, but we showed some desperation, and that’s what you have to have this time of year.”
Third-stringer Ty Conklin made 20 saves for the Red Wings.
Carolina’s Cam Ward stopped 45 shots.
“We left our goaltender out to dry a lot,” LaRose said. “It could have been 10-4.”
NOTES: Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Howard (groin) might return to play Monday or Wednesday. … Franzen (back) and Ericsson (left wrist) are expected to play next week. Helm (back) will likely be out until the first round of the playoffs, Holland said. … Detroit’s backup goalie, Joey MacDonald, was out with a back injury. … Carolina D Jaroslav Spacek (lower body) missed his fourth straight game and F Andreas Nodl (upper body) was scratched for a third game in a row.