The Carolina Hurricanes had a good, strong start Thursday against the Minnesota Wild at PNC Arena.
The Canes scored on the power play. They got a goal from their fourth line. Forward Jeff Skinner was a threat all game.
But it wasn’t enough as the Wild recovered, regrouped, worked their way back into the game and then won it 3-2 in overtime on a Jason Zucker goal.
Zucker also had the first score for the Wild (10-3-2), which trailed 2-0 barely eight minutes into the game, on a wicked shot from the wing. Thomas Vanek tied it 2-2 in the second period and then Zucker struck again with 70 seconds left in overtime, tipping in a shot by defenseman Ryan Suter.
But the Wild would not have won without some scintillating play in net by goalie Devan Dubnyk, who allowed the two goals but finished with 37 saves. Dubnyk had several high-quality stops, denying Skinner early in overtime after Skinner swiped the puck and got off a shot.
Defenseman Justin Faulk and forward Andrej Nestrasil had the two first-period scores for the Canes (6-9-1) — Nestrasil’s goal being allowed after a coach’s challenge by the Canes’ Bill Peters and a review.
Peters liked his team’s start but was upset about the second period, when the Canes were outskated and outplayed,saying, “Our (lack of) intensity and effort in the second period denied us the opportunity to get two points.”
Why the letdown in the second?
“I would think I would have to look in the mirror if I was a player and I’d have to say, ‘Was I mature in my approach? Did I play 60 minutes? Did I empty the tank?’”
The Canes, who had three second-period shots after 19 in the first, were better in the third. But Dubnyk, who leads the league with 10 wins, had all the answers, even as Skinner — who had seven of the Canes’ 39 shots — and others pressured the 6-foot-6 goalie.
Carolina’s overtime loss was its first of the season after winning the first three in the NHL’s new three-on-three format this season. The Canes had a four-on-three power play in the overtime after Suter was called for hooking Skinner but couldn't convert.
“We’ve got to find ways to win these games,” said Faulk, who has six goals this season, all on the power play. “That was great opportunity for us to put the game away. That’s when the power play needs to step up.”
Faulk scored on a heavy shot from the point at 4:26 of the first after the Wild’s Christian Folin was called for hooking. Nestrasil then made it 2-0 on a play that initially was called goaltender interference against Canes center Jay McClement.
McClement, crashing the net, was pushed into Dubnyk by Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and knocked over the goalie as Nestrasil followed up and scored. After the challenge and review, the goal counted and Nestrasil had his first of the season.
The Canes were playing the first of five straight home games as they attempt to string together some wins. Carolina is 2-4-1 at home this season.
“It’s huge,” Peters said of the homstand. “There are four games left, so it’s absolutely huge. We know how it works, standing-wise. Pivotal points of the year, home-ice record. We understand what’s at stake.”