The Canes' last game against the Minnesota Wild turned out to be pretty memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
The Canes lost 3-1 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Goalie Cam Ward went out with an early injury and forward Jeff Skinner with an injury later, and neither has played since that Oct. 24 game.
Ward was back on the ice Saturday at PNC Arena and in full gear, getting in some work after the morning skate. He was taking shots from the defensemen and appeared to be moving well laterally.
"It's great, it's exciting," Canes coach Kirk Muller said. "We're pushing here and stopped the bleeding and five-game losing streak and put a couple of good wins together. It's good the way guys are finding ways to win the last two games, similar to the beginning of the year. But now we're seeing we're close to getting some healthy guys back."
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Ward also skated Friday, Muller said, and could be back at practice next week. Defenseman Tim Gleason, out the past three games with an upper-body injury, is ready to rejoin practice, Muller said. Skinner is expected to be out another week or so.
-- Defenseman Ron Hainsey was not at the skate but will play, Muller said. Mike Komisarek again will be the healthy extra.
The lines and defensive pairs will be the same as in the 1-0 win Thursday over the New York Islanders:
Eric Staal will center Jiri Tlusty and Alex Semin; Jordan Staal will center Nathan Gerbe and Tuomo Ruutu; Riley Nash will be at center with Chris Terry and Pat Dwyer, and Manny Malhotra will center Drayson Bowman and Radek Dvorak.
Defensively, Justin Faulk will be paired with Andrej Sekera, Jay Harrison with Ryan Murphy and Hainsey with Brett Bellemore.
Justin Peters will make his seventh straight start in net and oppose Josh Harding of the Wild. Peters was thrust into the game in Minnesota and allowed goals on his first two shots but is coming off his third career shutout.
-- Dvorak's winning goal Thursday was his second winner of the season, the first coming against the Flyers in the second game. One side note: Dvorak said Saturday he still was not sure if he touched the puck with his stick before it glanced off him and into the Isles net.
"Something touched my stick," he said. "It may have been the puck. It may have been a stick on stick. But who cares? It went in. That's the only thing that matters."
-- The Canes are prepared to play a similar game against the Wild (9-4-4), a 3-2 shootout loser to the Washington Capitals in its last game but 6-1-1 in the last eight.
"Like a lot of the Western teams, as we've seen this year, they're happy to play that low-scoring game," Muller said. "There's a lot of structure to their game. Their goaltender's playing really well. They're happy to try and win a 1-0 game. I think they're getting less shots but scoring more goals. We've just got to be ready to play the game the right way."
The Canes limited the Islanders to 21 shots and muzzled offensive threats John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Thomas Vanek, who each had just one shot. They protected the 1-0 lead, clearing away the rebounds Peters did allow and preventing odd-man rushes.
"We should have the confidence we can play this type of game tonight,” Muller said. “I know one thing: Minnesota is not going to beat themselves. They're a smart team. That's the way we have to approach it, too. We've got to go and not beat ourselves and play a real simple game and when you get that (offensive) opportunity we have to cash in. It might be the first shift of the first or the last shift of the third period."