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Recap: Hurricanes can’t dig out of three-goal hole in loss to Wild

Two of the NHL’s best skating teams put on a clinic Saturday night in St. Paul, with the Wild coming out on top.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Minnesota Wild Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time not long ago when a 3-2 game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild would have been a guaranteed cure for insomnia. Alas - and thank goodness - times have most certainly changed.

The Hurricanes spotted the Wild a three-goal lead then nearly came all the way back, falling 3-2 to Minnesota to wrap up a 1-2-1 road trip. The matchup between two of the NHL’s top teams, and certainly two of the most entertaining, was a showcase for what the NHL can be, and if this ends up being a Stanley Cup preview then few would be forgiven for looking very much forward to it.

An entertaining first period saw the two teams skate up and down the ice at breakneck speed and with very few stoppages, the 20 minutes of action only taking 34 minutes of actual time with six of those spoken for by media timeouts. The Hurricanes came out strong but increasingly relied on Frederik Andersen as the period went by, with the Dane coming to the rescue to bail his teammates out on a weird bounce that fell directly to the dangerous Kirill Kaprizov at point-blank range.

Carolina still struggled with the Wild’s speed after the first intermission, but they certainly had their chances. The snakebitten Seth Jarvis somehow fanned on an open net trying to clean up a rebound of a Vincent Trocheck shot in the first minute, and Matt Dumba swiped a Trocheck chance off the line behind Cam Talbot to preserve the scoreless draw early in the second.

The Wild line of Kevin Fiala, Frederick Gaudreau and Matt Boldy gave the Hurricanes fits all night, and it was Fiala that opened the scoring midway through the second with a laser shot that left Andersen no chance. The red-hot winger’s 14th of the season was his tenth in his last 14 games and gave the Wild a 1-0 lead into the second intermission.

It certainly felt at that point like the game was going to be a low-scoring case study in how goals don’t necessarily tell the story of a good game, but then the Wild blew the doors off in the opening two and a half minutes of the third. Kaprizov turned on the jets to split the Hurricanes’ defense after a giveaway by Jaccob Slavin at the Hurricanes’ blue line, then just over a minute later Gaudreau made it a three-goal lead by finishing off a play started by a picked-off pass at the Wild blue line.

Andersen continued his strong play, giving his teammates a chance to make something happen, and Andrei Svechnikov answered the bell.

Svechnikov’s first was a rocket shot over Talbot’s blocker to break the shutout, ending the goalie’s shutout streak at nearly 148 minutes per The Athletic’s Michael Russo. Then, a minute and a half later, with the Hurricanes on a power play Teuvo Teravainen made a pinpoint pass nearly the width of the ice that Svechnikov one-timed home to pull the Hurricanes to within one.

The speed of the Wild, though, was still forcing the Hurricanes to play back on their heels, and Andersen stood strong, robbing Kaprizov on a bid for his second while Jaccob Slavin (!) was busy hooking the Russian star, then stoning Fiala on another splitting of the Carolina defense.

Rod Brind’Amour pulled Andersen with just over two minutes left, and despite the Hurricanes forcing three separate icings, the Hurricanes couldn’t beat Talbot. Svechnikov had the best chance, trying to redirect a puck into the net but directing it a foot or so to Talbot’s left, and the Hurricanes couldn’t pull off the miracle comeback, consigning them their third loss in four games despite outshooting Minnesota 39-27.