RALEIGH, N.C. – The ice was fully shredded following the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild at PNC Arena on Thursday.
Derek Ryan, Victor Rask, and Teuvo Teravainen notched single goals for Carolina while Eddie Lack made 31 saves to earn the win.
Former Hurricanes captain Eric Staal was in town, playing with the visiting Wild, but as much as he tried, putting six shots on Lack, he couldn’t make a difference in his team’s fourth road loss in five games.
Mikael Granlund scored the lone marker for Minnesota, while netminder Devan Dubnyk suffered the loss, making 21 stops in the process.
For anyone who wasn’t there, or didn’t watch it, Carolina head coach Bill Peters best described the game as “a dog fight out there.”
It was the first matchup between the two teams this season, a second-place Western Conference squad headed for the playoffs facing a seventh-place Eastern Conference group that wouldn’t concede a bit anywhere on the ice, or for what the remainder of the season holds in store for it.
“We still are pushin’ hard,” Peters said.
“We came up with four five-game segments. Out of this five-game segment, we went 3-0-2 which is eight points. The two games that we didn’t win, we never trailed until the game’s over in overtime. It’s a a good segment.”
In coming out on top in this one, Carolina had to play tougher – and did.
They hadn’t beaten the Wild in their own building since a 5-4 shootout decision back on Nov. 15, 2009.
The Hurricanes lost both times to Minnesota last season, but with this hard-fought win, they claimed points for the fourth in the last six games against the Wild.
A total of 48 hits were dished out between both sides – 26 for Carolina and 22 for Minnesota.
Derek Ryan opened the game’s scoring at the 4:37 mark, following up on a Noah Hanifin point shot during Carolina’s first power play opportunity of the game.
Ryan’s backhand swipe at the puck snuck past Dubnyk’s blocker-side arm as he tried to squeeze it against his body, and gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.
In addition to Hanifin, Lee Stempniak also earned an assist on Ryan’s 11th goal of the season.
“A little garbage goal there,” he said smiling.
“We were just talking about getting’ pucks and bodies to the net there, and whack in some garbage goals.”
Back in the lineup after missing eight games due to an upper-body injury, forward Brock McGinn worked the corners and softened up the Wild defense with three hits, as many others did, and kept Dubnyk busy, kicking away shots with a lively set of pads.
At the other end, Lack made big stops too, including one on Staal with his blocker that kept the Hurricanes ahead as play continued through the midpoint of the opening period.
Lack described his play as being a little lucky, not overly technical.
He referred to it as “staying in my bubble”.
“I just focused on what I gotta do,” Lack said.
“Even though I wasn’t playing in the last week-and-a-half, I was working hard in practice, and I think that’s been helpful for me.”
When asked, Peters jokingly said, “the goalie bubble, yeah, stay out of that. The world will be a better place.”
“Eddie made some big saves…He was big tonight.”
With Carolina on its second power play in the first period, Minnesota took advantage of a turnover to even the score.
What looked like a harmless 2-on-2, with Mikko Koivou carrying the puck into the Hurricanes’ zone, turned into a scoring opportunity for Minnesota’s leading scorer, Granlund.
Sneaking between Hanifin and retreating forward Stempniak, Granlund got the pass from Koivu and beat Lack high to even the score with 7:25 left in the period.
Both teams were still tied at a goal apiece until the third.
Then, off a drop pass from Elias Lindholm, Rask skated out of the corner to Dubnyk’s left and outskated Jason Zucker before sliding the puck between the keeper’s pads to put Carolina ahead 2-1 with 3:24 to go.
“I got some space, and Rasky came from the left and they gave him some room, and he made a nice play and put it in,” Lindholm said.
The assist for him set a new career high, 29 on the season so far, while extending his current point streak to five games.
With the Wild net empty, Teravainen scored his 14th of the season, and sealed the win two minutes later.
Disappointed in his team’s loss, Minnesota head coach Bruce Boudreau said,” I guess effort – never quit, right down to the last second. The guys are feeling it. It’s been a long trip. We had opportunities – we just didn’t score.”
While the Wild didn’t get the result they wanted, the Hurricanes got theirs.
For former teammates of Staal’s, there was a little bonus in earning the win against their former captain.
“It was fun,” Lindholm said.
“Having him around here – for me – two-and-a-half, three years; he’s a good guy, great friend, and good player. It’s fun to go against him. He’s really competitive out there. It looked like he really wanted a goal out there. It was fun to see him with Minny.”