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Hurricanes 4, Wild 3: Minnesota loses to Carolina as OT struggles continue

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Minnesota played well, but Devan Dubnyk struggled in yet another overtime loss.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Minnesota Wild David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was a bummer.

The Minnesota Wild actually played Saturday’s game very well throughout all three periods, despite trailing by two goals twice. They were constantly peppering James Reimer with shots and creating chances, and finally they broke through late in the second period on scores from Luke Kunin, Zach Parise and then Carson Soucy, who scored his first NHL goal after a nice play by Victor Rask to tie the game at three apiece heading into the final period.

Carolina did not shy away in the third, however, as the Hurricanes came out looking like a team who also badly wanted a win. They controlled the first five minutes or so of the period. The Wild responded with a few great chances of their own, including this shot by Joel Eriksson Ek that Reimer swept from the goal line just as it was about to go in the net.

Minnesota kept coming, and Jordan Greenway powered through the Carolina defense and put a shot on goal that hit Reimer’s pad and deflected off the post and out. Those last two chances were a pretty good representation of what has haunted Minnesota in the past — playing so well and getting so many great scoring chances, but just not enough to get the win.

Aside from a penalty by Ryan Hartman, there wasn’t a whole lot of action the rest of the third, and the game went to the overtime session tied, awarding each team a point.

Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau had recently hinted that the team would be coming out with a more speed and youth-based strategy in overtime, and they did just that, starting out with Joel Erikkson Ek, Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin. Not much happened in the overtime session, as Minnesota finally got possession of the puck and got it up ice for Luke Kunin who was stopped on his original shot and just skated over the rebound.

Just about a minute later, Andrei Svechnikov skated up the ice and beat Devan Dubnyk high on the blocker side for the game-winning goal, which was one Dubnyk probably should stopped, giving Minnesota the loss in overtime.

Again, while the team as a whole played quite well most of the afternoon, the big reason Minnesota didn’t come out with two points was the play of Dubnyk.

While the overtime goal by Svechnikov was an awesome shot, Dubnyk appeared to be a little deeper in his net than necessary. None of the Hurricanes’ goals were particularly great ones for Dubnyk to give up, including a slapper from the blueline in the first period that beat Dubnyk clean over the glove.

Nobody likes piling on the goalies, but when the rest of the team plays so well and rallies late, Dubnyk needs to make those saves, and he just hasn’t. Dubnyk will need to really pick up his game if the Wild have any hope of getting back into the playoff race.

Next up, the Wild travel to Buffalo to take on the reeling Sabres on Tuesday night.

Answers to our Burning Questions

1. Can the Wild keep Nino, Haula and Gardiner from scoring?

Aside from a secondary assist from Nino Niederreiter on the first Hurricanes goal, the Wild did a good job of keeping these guys off the scoresheet. While Haula did showcase his speed a few times, he never really got close to scoring, and it was the same for Nino and Gardiner. Of course, Minnesota ended up losing, so it doesn’t matter all that much who scored for the other team.

2. Can the Wild avoid poorly timed penalties?

For the most part Minnesota didn’t take any real “dumb” penalties, aside from Ryan Hartman getting called for interference a little over midway through the 3rd period. Minnesota did a good job of being disciplined and not giving the Hurricanes many chances on the power play with guys like Sebastian Aho and Svechnikov out there.

3. Can Kevin Fiala keep scoring and does Jordan Greenway start scoring?

Fiala had another very good game, speeding around the ice and creating multiple scoring chances on his line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu. His best play of the game was likely his fancy rush into the offensive zone, dangling through the Carolina defense, though he just missed scoring on Reimer. Although he didn’t register a point, it was another very encouraging game from Fiala.

Jordan Greenway also played well. He showed Saturday how much of a beast he can be when he is on. Offensively, he came very close to scoring in the 3rd, putting a shot through the pads of Reimer and off the post. Greenway also recorded a secondary assist on Luke Kunin’s goal and showed throughout the game what he could be if he brings it consistently.