Canes rebound, rip Wild 5-1
To Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, every game the rest of the regular season will be “do or die” -- his words Saturday.
If that’s the case, and probably is, the Canes did all the right things in a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild at PNC Arena.
Teuvo Teravainen had a goal and two assists for the Canes (41-26-7). Jordan Staal and Brett Pesce scored in the second period and Andrei Svechnikov and Lucas Wallmark had goals in the third before Teravainen finished it off, ending a tough night for goalie Devan Dubnyk and the Wild (35-32-9).
Goalie Petr Mrazek won for the eighth time in his last nine starts, allowing only a power-play goal to former Canes captain Eric Staal in the second and making 24 saves.
At a time in the season when the pressure is building, points precious and playoff position in the balance, the Canes maintained their hold on the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Bouncing back from a distasteful 6-3 loss Thursday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, when they allowed four goals in the third period, the Canes surged in the third Saturday in expanding a 2-1 lead.
“We played the best team in the league, by a mile, and everyone was upset by how the game went,” Brind’Amour said of the Tampa Bay game. “That’s great here. We expect to win every night. We also expect a certain level of play and if it’s not there, everyone is not too happy.”
Coming up for the Canes: a matchup Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens at PNC Arena, followed a pair of games against the Washington Capitals. The Canadiens, in the second wild-card spot, also won Saturday, ripping Buffalo 7-4 to stay two points behind the Canes.
“We just have to win them, there’s no way around it,” Brind’Amour said. “Nobody’s going to lose who’s around us. We just have to go do it ... and take care of business.”
As Pesce put it, “Every game, as you get closer to the end, becomes the bigger and bigger game because we need the points.”
Saturday’s game was the first between the Canes and Wild since the much-discussed January trade that had winger Nino Niederreiter come to Carolina in exchange for center Victor Rask. For Niederreiter, getting the win had to be sweet.
So, too, Canes fans, who broke into a loud chant of “We want playoffs! We want playoffs!” late in the game.
“It was nice to hear,” Teravainen said.
The fans had a little more fun after the game, when the victory celebration had a basketball theme in the spirit of the NCAA tournament. Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk dribbled the ball through a crowd of teammates and dunked on a basketball goal.
A Zion Williamson imitation, perhaps? “No, no, no, no, that was more of a Nassir Little, Cam Johnson type dunk,” van Riemsdyk said, smiling, giving away his UNC allegiances and adding to it later by saying it was a “Roy Williams type play.”
In the second, Jordan Staal picked up his ninth goal of the season when a Justin Faulk shot hit Staal’s skate in front of the crease and got past Dubnyk. Pesce then rifled a shot from the left circle off a Justin Williams pass, the Canes had two-goal lead and the crowd of 16,751 was loud.
The Canes killed off the first two minutes of a double-minor against Micheal Ferland for high-sticking, but Eric Staal then scored on a tight-angle shot, the puck glancing off Mrazek’s leg and into the net.
Svechnikov’s 19th of the season came on a well-executed setup pass from Teravainen as the Jordan Staal line was dominant much of the night. Wallmark one-timed a pass from Ferland and Teravainen beat Dubnyk after Dubnyk failed on a poke check, throwing his paddle at the puck in disgust.
The Wild played Friday in Washington, topping the Capitals 2-1, but forward Zach Parise was unable to go in the second half of the back-to-back after a collision with the Caps’ Tom Wilson.
Dubnyk, back in net for a second straight night, had all the answers in the first period, turning back 11 shots. His biggest stop came late in the period, after Svechnikov broke in alone, only to have his backhand turned away.
“We kept our foot on the gas tonight,” Pesce said.