Well, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t see this one coming.
The Carolina Hurricanes traveled up North to take on the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. In Bill Peters’ first game behind the bench this preseason, he decided to go with a young roster, made up largely of AHL-bound players.
Minnesota decided to go a different route as they iced an opening night preview in front of their home fans.
Despite this, the ‘Canes jumped out to an early lead. A powerplay deflection from Bryan Bickell found its way past Devan Dubnyk and gave Carolina a 1-0 lead.
From there on, it was all Minnesota as they outshot the Hurricanes 38-17 and were able to find the back of the net three times at even strength.
Eric Staal assisted on Minnesota’s first goal at 19:10 of the second period and scored Minnesota’s second goal on a hard wrist shot from the top of the left circle that leaked in past Alex Nedeljkovic mid-way through period three.
Just under six minutes later, Jason Zucker scored to really ice things away. Wild top prospect Joel Eriksson Ek factored in on the goal with an assist.
A Difference in Approach
The Carolina Hurricanes went in a very different direction than the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.
Bill Peters went into this game being very clear that he wanted to see what some of the young guys can do and evaluate them with his own eyes.
These young players had a big challenge as they played all of Minnesota’s top players, with an exception of Nino Niederreiter who is still out of the lineup after participating in the World Cup of Hockey for Team Europe.
Quite frankly, this was a throwaway game that likely featured many players’ last game of the preseason prior to being sent back down to Charlotte later this week.
That being said, thanks in large part to the goaltending of Michael Leighton and Alex Nedeljkovic, the Hurricanes were tied with the Wild almost half way into the third period, so that has to buy a little bit of credit for an AHL team going up against a full NHL squad.
- Hurricanes starter Michael Leighton had a fabulous showing against the Wild. He played through the first half of the game, allowing just one goal on 21 shots. Alex Nedeljkovic came in and ultimately gave up the lead to the Wild, but he still made several key saves to at least give the ‘Canes a fighting chance down the stretch. He stopped 15 of 17 shots from Minnesota.
- Just three players on the Hurricanes had multiple shots on net - Viktor Stalberg (3), Bryan Bickell (2) and Roland McKeown (2). 13 Minnesota players had multiple shots on net, including Ryan Suter, who put four shots on net throughout the night and was a plus-three.
- Bill Peters had the goal of getting each player 13+ minutes of ice time on Sunday. With the exceptions of Raffi Torres (9:17) and Brock McGinn (10:02), he was successful. It was very much a tryout game for many players in front of the head coach.
On to the Next One
The Carolina Hurricanes will take a 2-1-1 preseason record to Marquette, Michigan on Tuesday as they take on the Buffalo Sabres in a neutral site game for Kraft Hockeyville USA.
The two teams will reconvene in another neutral site game on Wednesday in Sault Ste. Marie, the hometown of general manager Ron Francis.