Hurricanes get two late goals but can’t top Wild
Published 11:17 pm Saturday, February 12, 2022
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Sports Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau each had a goal and an assist for the Minnesota Wild, who held on for a 3-2 victory over Carolina after consecutive goals by Hurricanes star Andrei Svechnikov tightened the game in the third period on Saturday night.
Kirill Kaprizov also scored and Cam Talbot made 37 saves for the Wild, who are 10-1-1 in their last 12 games.
Talbot has won four straight starts, with a total of five goals allowed. Fiala has 10 goals and eight assists in his last 14 games.
Svechnikov has 11 goals in his last 17 games. He scored 1:21 apart, giving the Hurricanes more than two-thirds of the final frame to tie it, but Talbot was up to the task.
Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Hurricanes, who fell to 17-5-2 in their last 24 games. Andersen is still 14-2-1 in his last 17 starts, with just 34 goals allowed in that stretch.
The Hurricanes and Wild brought two of the top six records in the NHL into this game, their first against each other in more than 26 months due to the pandemic-altered 2020-21 schedule, and the pace of play was on par with their lofty perches in the standings.
Sharp goaltending kept the game scoreless through a slew of prime chances, until the 10:14 mark of the second period.
After Gaudreau maneuvered around Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei as they chased a loose puck along the boards, Gaudreau’s centering pass to Matt Blody was poked away by Brett Pesce. Fiala snagged it in the slot, drifted to his left and snapped a shot past Andersen’s right shoulder that scraped the underside of the crossbar.
That was the first goal against the Hurricanes, who have given up the fewest goals per game in the league, in a span of 127 minutes and 20 seconds.
Following the second intermission, the teams let loose. Kaprizov knocked in his own rebound for his 20th goal of the season to give the Wild a 2-0 lead at 1:16 of the third period. Gaudreau followed him just 78 seconds later, set up by a slick drop pass from a pivoting Fiala, and the fans fired up the “Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!” chant to taunt Andersen.
Then Svechnikov, the second overall pick in 2018 who is still just 21, single-handedly brought the Hurricanes back by finally solving the All-Star Talbot with a rocket from deep in the slot. Svechnikov tacked on another one, his 20th goal of the season, with a one-timer on the power play at the 6:23 mark.
The Hurricanes, who were coming off a 6-0 win at Boston on Thursday and lead the Metropolitan Division, allowed only one third-period goal over their previous three games and have the NHL’s best goal differential in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
The game was postponed from Dec. 14, when six Hurricanes players were placed in the COVID-19 protocols in a 24-hour period. As that wave of cases washed over the league, the NHL backed out of the Beijing Olympics and used the space on the schedule this month to make up the 98 games that were called off between mid-November and mid-January.
Carolina right wing Derek Stepan (Hastings) and Skjei (Lakeville) are both natives of the Twin Cities area who had plenty of family and friends in attendance. This was their first game at Minnesota as a member of the Hurricanes, whose last visit to Xcel Energy Center was on Nov. 16, 2019. Defenseman Jake Gardiner (Minnetonka), who has not played this season after back and hip surgeries, is the other Minnesotan on Carolina’s roster.
Left wing Nino Niederreiter and defenseman Ian Cole, both former Wild players, also found the ice familiar. Niederreiter had 110 goals in 434 games for Minnesota until he was traded on Jan. 17, 2019.
Minnesota played without Marcus Foligno, who served the first game of a two-game suspension for kneeing Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry against the Jets on Tuesday. Brandon Duhaime replaced Foligno on the second line. … Jesperi Kotkaniemi cleared COVID-19 protocols and returned to Carolina’s lineup after missing the last three games.
The Hurricanes host the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night, their first home game in 17 days.
The Wild host the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.
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