Mrazek could face former team when Red Wings visit Hurricanes

December 20, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Petr Mrazek has been the next-guy-up in net for the Carolina Hurricanes.

If he gets the call for Thursday night's game at PNC Arena, he should be familiar with the opposition.

That's because the Detroit Red Wings will be the visitors. Mrazek played the past four seasons with Detroit.

Mrazek is coming off a 23-save shutout of the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday, a much-needed confidence boost for him and the Hurricanes.

"The key was playing good in the defensive zone, good penalty kill," Mrazek said. "I did see the puck really well, that was the key."

It was Mrazek's first shutout since last February for the Red Wings.

For the Hurricanes, the result was only the second victory in an eight-game stretch (2-4-2).

"You have to keep playing," Mrazek said of the team's quest to break into more consistency.

The goalie position has been rotating among three players to some degree. Since Sunday, Scott Darling was sent back to Charlotte of the American Hockey League. Curtis McElhinney had held the top goaltending duties for a few weeks until an injury.

So Mrazek's timing for a solid outing came at a good time.

"Petr was really good, so that's the way you want to do it," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said.

Deetroit needs to get moving in the right direction as well after Tuesday night's 3-2 loss to Philadelphia.

The Red Wings are winless in their last four games (0-3-1) and the frustration is mounting. They've scored a total of nine goals in those games.

"The last couple of games we've been struggling a bit," Detroit defenseman Dennis Cholowski said.

The Red Wings seem stuck in a rut too often.

"Not enough guys," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwell said of uneven production. "We can't be waiting for somebody else to do it. We have to all look ourselves in the mirror and see what we can do better."

The offense needed to break into a better groove in order for the Red Wings to be rewarded more often. They weren't able to take advantage of Philadelphia goalie Carter Hart, who was making his NHL debut this week.

"More pucks to the net, more traffic," Kronwell said. "Quite a few areas we need to clean up."

The Red Wings might have questions at goalie after Jimmy Howard was scratched Tuesday night when he developed a back ailment during pregame warmups.

The Hurricanes won in October in Detroit before the Red Wings prevailed in last month's rematch in Raleigh.

For Carolina, this is the middle game of a five-game homestand.

The Hurricanes were awarded an unexpected day off from practice last weekend in an effort to rejuvenate the team. It appeared to work, at least based on short-term returns.

"We needed a mental break, the game of hockey is a grind and it's tough," Brind'Amour said.

Thursday night's game marks the end of a three-game road swing for the Red Wings. But still they're amidst a stretch of six road outings and just one home game covering a two-week span.