The Carolina Hurricanes bounced back from a disappointing loss on Monday with a dominant defensive effort versus Detroit on Friday.
Carolina wraps up their six-game home stand today against a struggling Minnesota team.
The injury bug is rampant in Minnesota.
Most notable is defenseman and captain Jared Spurgeon. After an upper-body injury during the preseason that cost him 13 games, Spurgeon played 16 games until it was announced on Thursday he would miss the rest of the season to undergo hip and back surgery.
In their last game versus Florida, Marc-Andre Fleury left the game due to an upper-body injury. Yesterday, goaltender Jesper Wallstedt was called up from the AHL under emergency conditions.
Minnesota’s top two leading scorers, Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, have both missed time this season due to upper-body injuries.
Add in Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, and others to the list, and the Wild have 117-man games lost to injury this season.
Adding to the adversity, head coach Dean Evanson was fired on November 27 and replaced with John Hynes. The Wild had a solid December and are 14-11-1 with Hynes behind the bench.
Despite the Wild’s struggles, the team played great against the Panthers on Friday. The Minnesota power play, which ranks in the middle of the NHL, scored five of six goals in the Wild’s eventual 6-4 victory.
However, that was just the third win in the last 12 games for the Wild.
For Minnesota to stay in the game today, the Wild must stay out of the box. The team has a 72.1 percent penalty kill rate, the second worst in the NHL.
During tonight’s game, keep an eye on Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek. Kaprizov has seven goals and eight assists in his last ten games, and Eriksson Ek has three and three in the last five.
With Fleury out with an injury, expect Filip Gustavsson to be between the pipes for Minnesota.
For the Canes, the team bounced back in a big way after a disappointing performance for Justin Williams’ Hurricanes Hall of Fame induction.
After missing five games with an injury, Martin Necas was back in the lineup against the Red Wings and was a difference-maker. The eventual First Star had a goal, an assist, and a team-leading six shots.
Necas was not the only Cane with a multi-point night. Sebastian Aho, Michael Bunting, and Andrei Svechnikov also tallied multi-point evenings.
And let’s not forget Jordan Martinook. Martinook scored in his fourth consecutive game, the first time he has accomplished that in his career. His goal streak is the longest for any Carolina player this season.
The win over Detroit displayed defensive excellence in the third period. The Hurricanes will need the same effort against a Minnesota team that shows flashes of brilliance with their stars.
In a tight Metropolitan race, every point counts. This game is one that the Canes should take, but they cannot take the Wild lightly, especially after their impressive performance on Friday versus Florida, a Cup contender.
A couple of interesting connections between the teams. Former Canes Patrick Dwyer and Derek Stepan are on the Wild staff. Dwyer is an assistant coach, and Stephan is a scout.
Brent Burns was Minnesota’s first round draft pick in 2003, and Brady Skjei is a Lakeville, MN native and University of Minnesota alum.
For those Caniacs attending the game, it is NASCAR Day at PNC Arena.
Cole Custer, the defending Xfinity Series champion, will be signing autographs at Section 108 from 3:30-4 PM. For non-racing fans, the Xfinity Series (formerly the Busch Grand National Series and later Nationwide Series) is the second-highest level in NASCAR.
NASCAR tracks Martinsville Speedway (The Paper Clip/The Half Mile Of Mayhem) and Darlington Raceway (The Track Too Tough to Tame/The Lady in Black), along with local short track Wake County Speedway (America’s Favorite Bullring), will have exhibits on the plaza.
If you purchased a Seth Jarvis bobblehead, those will be available for pickup outside section 113.
Here’s how to check out the action:
- Time: 5:00 PM ET
- Location: PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
- TV: Bally Sports South with Mike Maniscalco, play-by-play; Tripp Tracy, color analyst; Hanna Yates, in-game reporter; Shane Willis, analyst.
- Radio: 99.9 The Fan
- Line: ML: CAR -192; PL: CAR -1.5 +130