On a night where the Minnesota Wild honored former Hurricanes captain Eric Staal for his achievement of 1,000 games played in the NHL, the ‘Canes were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention before their game even finished thanks to an Ottawa Senators victory over Detroit, making the Wild’s 5-3 win a formality.
Tonight also marked the NHL debut of Hurricanes forward Andrew Poturalski and the return to action of Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell following his diagnosis with MS that came in November.
The Wild struck first early on as Zach Parise finished off a cross-crease feed from Staal.
The Hurricanes would quickly tie it up, though, as Lee Stempniak scored his 200th goal in the NHL when Jeff Skinner sent a perfect pass from the left wing to the right wing. Stempniak buried the finish with little trouble.
Shortly after that, a weird play out in front resulted in Minnesota forward Jordan Schroeder having the puck in the midst of several Hurricane defenders in front of the net.
Schroeder took a shot that eluded the Carolina sticks around him as well as any of Cam Ward’s paraphernalia, and just like that the Wild took a 2-1 lead.
The game would stay at 2-1 until a pinch by Noah Hanifin forced the Wild into a delay of game penalty for putting the puck over the glass.
Victor Rask won the opening face-off of the power play to Hanifin, who sent a pass to his right to a wide open Skinner. Skinner’s one-timer from the right point beat Devan Dubnyk as cleanly as can be high to the glove side. The goal was Skinner’s 34th of the season, which made for a new career high.
The back-and-forth action of the period would continue as Nino Niederreiter buried a rebound in front of Ward to re-claim the lead for Minnesota.
Carolina wasn’t going to let the period end with the game tied, though. That would be making my job too easy. Skinner struck once again with his 35th of the year to tie the game. The goal capped a dominant shift by the winger, and Stempniak and Derek Ryan picked up the assists on the goal.
In all seriousness, the Hurricanes were probably fortunate to get out of the first with the score even, as the Wild outshot them 16 to 6 in the first frame.
Canes were out-attempted at 5v5 10-25 (28.6%)— Cane-alytics (@Cane_alytics) April 5, 2017
In all situations, the Canes had 6 SOG & Jeff Skinner earned primary points on half of them. pic.twitter.com/CcqbUOgcw8
The second period was not quite as eventful as its predecessor.
Carolina got an early opportunity with the man advantage, as Minnesota was whistled for a high-sticking infraction.
This time, however, there would be no immediate scoring from the Hurricanes on the power play. Minnesota killed the penalty off despite some solid puck control from the Hurricanes.
Ward’s rough night in net would continue as Charlie Coyle beat him about seven minutes into the period to give Minnesota a 4-3 lead.
The Hurricanes would get another chance with the power play to find an equalizer as Matt Dumba was called for high-sticking.
Skinner unleashed another one-timer, but this time Dubnyk had the answer on both the initial shot and the rebound that came from Ryan in the slot.
That chance represented the best opportunity that Carolina would have to tie the game on the power play, as the Wild were once again able to come up with a kill.
The second period ended with Minnesota clinging to their one goal lead.
The third period saw the Hurricanes pushing for an equalizer, and guys like Sebastian Aho were the most visible in the team’s attempts to do so.
With just a few minutes remaining in the period, Niederreiter scored his second goal of the game to effectively put the game out of reach at 5-3.
Rank the Performances
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