The Canes outshot and out-chanced Minnesota in the loss, something that has been a common occurrence for Carolina recently, but just didn’t have the scoring touch to finish off chances.
The Wild scored one goal in each of the three periods to grow a 3-0 lead, as a Teuvo Teravainen tally late for the Hurricanes was a slight consolation on the final score line.
About last night:
Tip Your Cap
Sometimes the Hall of Fame-bound goalie plays like a Hall of Fame-bound goalie.
Fleury was exceptional between the pipes for Minnesota Saturday night, turning away 37 of 38 shots faced while turning 2.64 expected goals against into just one actual goal against. He was perfect against the Canes’ mid- and low-danger scoring chances, stopping seven mid-danger opportunities and 23 high-danger ones.
He limited rebounds, allowing just two rebound chances against, and he frankly won the game for a Minnesota team that capitalized on its chances in a way that the Hurricanes couldn’t.
“I thought he was a great goalie,” said Ian Cole. “There’s a reason why he’s going to be a Hall of Famer. He’s supremely athletic. He makes saves that no, or very few, goalies can make. We saw some of those tonight...Tip your hat to [Fleury], he did a fantastic job.”
And while Fleury was exceptional, the Hurricanes certainly could have done more to challenge him. The Canes took a lot of soft shots from the outside, struggling to get much in the way of traffic in front of Fleury.
A few special teams lapses later, the Hurricanes were down in the game and couldn’t claw back out.
But still, a lot of it has to do with what Fleury did between the pipes. The Hurricanes had a couple of grade-A looks that Fleury showed out for, and it really was the difference between the result that happened and what could have been a much tighter game.
“He got them two points, that’s for sure,” said Rod Brind’Amour.
Teuvo Teravainen Toughness
A positive note from the night for the Canes was the toughness shown from Teravainen, who took a puck to the face early in the second period and returned in the third with a gruesome cut above his lip.
And not only did Teravainen return to the ice, he also got himself in front of Minnesota’s net and scored the Hurricanes’ only goal of the night.
There’s an edge to Teravainen’s game that I think a lot of fans, especially non-Canes fans, don’t quite know is there. He’s so soft spoken that it’s hard to imagine that level of grit in him, but Teravainen is capable of throwing his body around and being physical at times.
He also showed a hockey player-level of toughness that the common man can’t really fathom Saturday night.
“That’s the standard that our team plays to,” Cole said. “He got his lip cut in half there. So coming back out and scoring was huge there. It gave a little life to us. It gave us a chance to come back. Obviously we couldn’t complete it, but kudos to him for being as tough as he is.”
As for his thoughts on Teravainen’s toughness, Brind’Amour had a nice comparison.
“He’s sneaky,” Brind’Amour said. “He doesn’t really want you to think that. He reminds me a little bit of Ray Whitney in the way that they always pretend they’re something else, but deep down he’s a really competitive guy.”
March was a gauntlet for the Canes, but April looks like it may be a tad bit easier.
While the schedule is still compacted and busy, the quality of competition isn’t quite what it was last month.
While Minnesota is a very, very good team, the next stretch looks a bit different. Five of Carolina’s next seven games are against teams not currently in playoff spots, starting with a pair of games against Buffalo.
In total, 10 of Carolina’s final 13 games of the season are against teams not in the playoffs right now. The only exceptions are two games against the Rangers and one against the Avalanche.
The Canes still need to play good hockey and keep the ball rolling into the postseason, but the sailing may get smoother.