DETROIT — The Red Wings hope that the team that played the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night is not the one that shows up for the playoffs.
This Wings team didn’t look much like the one that has fought and clawed down the stretch to get into the playoffs for the 23rd straight season.
That’s why the Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead in the first period and held on for a 2-1 victory.
For Carolina, the win had historical significance as the Hurricanes had never won in Detroit during the regular season.
When they were the Hartford Whalers, they won 3-0 in Detroit on Nov. 14, 1989.
Tomas Tatar, Brian Lashoff, Tomas Jurco, Petr Mrazek and Danny DeKeyser weren’t even born then.
The Hurricanes did win Game 1 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena.
"That’s funny, we had an optional game-day skate and (assistant coach) Rod Brind’Amour told us about that," said Carolina goaltender Cam Ward, who made 28 saves. "You feel good that we were able to erase that record and come up with a win."
Wings coach Mike Babcock said they might have expected a bit of a letdown after clinching a playoff berth by getting one point in a shootout loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
"That’s not an excuse," Babcock said. "We have a good enough team to win (Friday night). We just have to play right.
"I was disappointed in the fact that we didn’t stick to what we have to do to have success, but it’s a good reminder for us, too."
Johan Franzen called it a "post-making-the-playoffs hangover."
"We had enough chances to win, but we didn’t really do all the small things like we’ve been doing to win all the games," Franzen said. "We were a little loose."
Pavel Datsyuk warned that the Wings don’t have a lot of time left to get their game back in order.
"Of course, we need to score," Datsyuk said. "We need to work on it. We have one more game and a few practice, maybe we work on it because every chance counts in the playoffs."
The Wings had two uncharacteristic too-many-men-on the-ice penalties and failed to bury pucks in open nets, both indications they weren’t quite themselves.
"If you do good things, good things happen," Babcock said. "If you don’t, you turn the puck over — I don’t know how many times — needlessly."
Despite Friday night’s misstep, the Wings still believe they’re the team that fought for the playoffs and can do some damage no matter which opponent they face.
"The way we’ve been playing down the stretch, I think any team that plays us has to worry about how to beat us so that’s a good thing," Franzen said. "We’re gonna try to do what we’ve been doing but step it up one notch — go a little bit faster and a little bit better."