The Canes failed to win on the road and, in the process, added to their lengthy list of lopsided losses this season, falling to the Wild by a score of 6-2.
The first period was, by and large, an even back-and-forth affair. Carolina pushed the tempo on offense and managed to create a plethora of opportunities, but Devan Dubnyk was phenomenal in net and Minnesota’s offense came through as former Canes captain Eric Staal made it 1-0 less than five minutes into the game.
Later in the opening frame, a turnover led to a clear-cut breakaway for Sebastian Aho, who nearly snuck the puck through Dubnyk’s legs but just couldn’t get it through. The scored remained 1-0 through 20 minutes.
The second period, in all likelihood, ended Carolina’s playoff hopes - and did so in ugly fashion.
In the first four minutes of the middle frame, the Wild scored four goals. 23 seconds in, Nino Niederreiter kicked off the goal fest; and Zach Parise, Daniel Winnik, and Eric Staal (his second of the game) followed suit and ultimately put the game well out of reach for the visiting Hurricanes who, by that point, had already pulled starter Cam Ward for Scott Darling, who allowed Staal’s second goal.
Darling was able to make some impressive saves in the second half of the game, ultimately allowing just one more goal - a third-period goal from Matt Cullen - en route to a 16-save effort in relief.
The Hurricanes did manage to get on the board in the third period. Just before the 10:00 mark, Phil Di Giuseppe netted his second goal of the season, making it a 5-1 game. Then, after Cullen made it 6-1, Derek Ryan deflected a shot from Victor Rask past Dubnyk on the powerplay to make it a 6-2 game in the final minutes.
That’s how it all ended. The Canes were outworked to a disappointing degree in a must-win hockey game. While the Wild put a hurting on their opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets won and jumped into the final wild card spot in the East. As the end of the season nears, it appears as if it’ll be a two-horse race for the final playoff spot - the Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers - unless the Hurricanes make a miraculous turn around and the teams in front of them start fall off.
The Hurricanes will look to get their dignity back on Thursday night in Chicago when they take on the sinking Blackhawks at the United Center. Carolina lost its only matchup with the Hawks this season by a score of 4-3, a game in which they failed to hold onto a third-period lead and lost in overtime at the PNC Arena.
Rank the Performances
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