Wild beat Hurricanes in battle of backup goalies
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Some goalies thrive on chaos, bringing calm to the midst of uncertainty. However, in the Minnesota Wild's 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, it was the goalies themselves causing the chaos and uncertainty.
Both starters -- Carolina's Cam Ward and Minnesota's Josh Harding -- failed to finish the game due to injury. Minnesota took advantage, scoring twice on Hurricanes backup Justin Peters. Carolina, by contrast, failed to capitalize when Harding went down.
Nino Neiderreiter and Zach Parise scored first-period goals for Minnesota, which won its second consecutive game, cooling off the Hurricanes. Carolina (4-3-3) entered with back-to-back road wins.
"We've lost some this year that maybe we deserved to win, and now tonight we got to be on the other side of one where we didn't play our best but we did the game," Parise said after the Wild (5-3-3) struggled to close out a game they led 2-0.
The Hurricanes got a power-play goal from Alexander Semin in the second period and became the first road team to outshoot Minnesota this season, but they were unable to score the equalizer.
Dany Heatley added a power-play, empty-net goal for Minnesota in the final half-minute.
"Peters came in and did the job for jumping into that kind of a situation," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "You don't like to see this -- (Hurricanes goalie Anton) Khudobin goes down (last week) and Ward goes down early in the game like that, so we'll see how the situation applies there. But you know what, no excuses, it's part of the game. I thought our guys responded really well. I thought they stayed with the game plan."
The Hurricanes' unexpected goalie change came just 4:07 into the game. Ward stopped Minnesota's first five shots, then headed to the locker room with a lower-body injury. Peters came on in relief, making his first appearance of the season.
During the second period, the Hurricanes announced that Ward would be out three to four weeks, and they are recalling Mike Murphy from their AHL affiliate in Charlotte.
Peters, who was called up from Charlotte on Oct. 14 after Khudobin also suffered a lower-body injury, got an unfriendly welcome from the Wild. Neiderreiter and Parise scored on the first two shots that Minnesota sent toward the understudy. Peters emerged from the first period with three saves and had 19 for the game.
Neiderreiter's goal came on a power play at 8:21, set up by a Mikael Granlund pass from behind the net. Parise got his team-leading fifth of the season at 11:55 when he deposited the rebound of a Jared Spurgeon blast that hit the crossbar.
Semin pulled Carolina back within a goal at 6:01 of the second period, scoring with one second remaining on a power play after a cross-ice pass from Eric Staal.
"You never want to see a teammate get hurt, but unfortunately Ward did tonight," said Peters, who played in 19 games for Carolina last season and had a 4-11-1 record. "They got two quick ones on me right when I got in. I just tried to get my bearings and tried to battle. Once I got into the game, I definitely felt a little more comfortable."
The Wild had a new goalie at the start of the third period as well. Harding, playing in his ninth consecutive game, appeared to tweak his left knee during the second period. He finished with 20 saves. Niklas Backstrom, who had not played since sustaining a lower-body injury Oct. 8, made seven saves in the final 20 minutes.
"I thought he played great in this game, coming in in a tough situation," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Backstrom. "He made a huge save on the first (penalty kill), a glove save I thought was great. ... When you've been off like he's been off, the most important thing for him right now is tomorrow's practice."
NOTES: Wild D Jonas Brodin was scratched after leaving early in Minnesota's 2-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. Brodin was struck in the face by a puck and suffered a broken cheekbone. While there is no timetable for his return, the team announced Brodin would not have surgery and that he might practice Friday. ... Hurricanes RW Patrick Dwyer missed his first game of the season. After suffering an upper-body injury in practice Monday, Dwyer came on the trip to Minnesota but did not suit up. ... Thursday's game was the 700th all-time for Eric Staal, who has spent his entire career with the Hurricanes. ... Carolina concludes its four-game road swing Friday night in Denver vs. the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota travels to Chicago on Saturday for its first meeting with the Blackhawks since the opening round of last season's playoffs.
--The Sports Xchange--