The Carolina Hurricanes had come in on a 14 game winless streak, tying the franchise record long streak dating back to when Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards was a member of the 1991-1992 Hartford Whalers (long live the Whale). Canes head coach Paul Maurice was sitting on the hottest of hot seats. They were missing their #1 goaltender in Cam Ward and one of their top offensive options in Eric Staal. The Minnesota Wild were wrapping up an Eastern Conference road trip in which they had trounced the bottom-feeding Toronto Maple Leafs, choked away a win against a team outside the top eight in the Tampa Bay Lightning, then lost a tough game to the elite-level Washington Capitals in which Josh Harding faced 41 shots. The Wild should've been looking to roll over the Canes and head back home.
Unfortunately, they looked like they were relying upon a beaten team to show up, and do nothing more than give them two easy points.
Carolina came out swinging. Jussi Jokinen was showing off for Finland Olympic GM Jari Kurri and put the Canes up 1-0 just 2:45 into the game. Then Joe Corvo scored on the power play with 2:11 left in the period to send the teams into the locker room for the first intermission with the home town Hurricanes up 2-0.
Minnesota used the break to regroup and came out with more intensity. However, the march to the penalty box for the Wild continued, as four Ray Whitney took advantage of the power play, and added to the Carolina lead at 3-0. Antti Miettinen then tipped in a goal on a Brent Burns shot to bring it to 3-1. However, the penalties continued to stack up, as Brandon Sutter notched another power play goal, creating a three-goal lead for the Canes again.
At that point, the momentum changed. Robbie Earl circled away from the net, turned and fired a puck over backup goaltender Michael Leighton. The goal was Earl's first career NHL marker. 19 seconds later, John Scott also scored his NHL first. The teams headed into the intermission with a Hurricanes leading 4-3, but the Wild had all the momentum.
Going into the third, it looked like the wheels were coming off for the Hurricanes. Minnesota controlled play, and Robbie Earl added his second of the afternoon, tying the game at 4. Minnesota then relaxed, with the game tied. This turned out to be a fatal mistake. The Wild would never again get a great scoring chance, and the Hurricanes were comfortable to play it out and go to overtime and the eventual shootout.
Once they got to the shootout, the Wild looked uncomfortable again, and the ice got choppy. Miettinen, Mikko Koivu and Marek Zidlicky were all stopped, but Jussi Jokinen sent the fans home with the two points and Minnesota got ready to head back to St. Paul with four points from a probable six on the trip.
A few positives from the game:
- Brent Burns was a +4 on the evening
- John Scott's first NHL goal
- Robbie Earl's first and second NHL goal
- Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak's never-ending energy
Please read the game recap over at Canes Country
Hockey Wilderness Three
Questions to Answer
- In this battle between the worst in the East and the worst in the West, who truly is the worst? Well, frankly, both teams had stretches of incompetence.
- Could today be the end of the road for Paul Maurice? No, but Fanhouse puts Richards on the hot seat! Pink Slip Index - NHL Fanhouse
- Can the Canes get payback for a bad OT loss to the Wild in October? That they did.
- Once again, the Wild get a backup. Can they get on Leighton early and often? No, how about late and often?
- Last game, Martin Havlat had 8 shots. Can he actually score this time?? Ugh.