ST. PAUL, Minn. – Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau each had a goal and an assist for the Minnesota Wild, who held on for a 3-2 victory over Carolina after consecutive goals by Hurricanes star Andrei Svechnikov tightend the game in the third period on Saturday night.
Kirill Kaprizov also scored and Cam Talbot made 37 saves for the Wild, who are 10-1-1 in their last 12 games. Talbot has won four straight starts, with a total of five goals allowed.
“It just continues to grow our confidence, to know that we can hang in there with one of the best teams in the league and come out on top,” Talbot said. “They were relentless all over the ice.”
Svechnikov has 11 goals in his last 17 games. He scored 1:21 apart, giving the Hurricanes more than two-thirds of the final frame to tie it, but Talbot was up to the task.
“When you play a pretty good game and create enough to win, those are tough,” coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
The Hurricanes and Wild brought two of the top six records in the NHL into this game, and the pace of play was on par with their lofty perches in the standings.
“If they’re contenders, so are we. That’s what we feel like,” said Fiala, who has 10 goals and eight assists in his last 14 games.
Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Hurricanes, who fell to 17-5-2 in their last 24 games. Andersen is 14-2-1 in his last 17 starts, with just 34 goals allowed in that stretch, but the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes went 1-2-1 on this four-game road trip.
“It’s a playoff type feel to the game. A real physical team, good team,” said defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who had two assists. “If we keep playing like that — we've just got to do it for 60 minutes — I’m not too worried.”
The game was scoreless until the 10:14 mark of the second period.
After Gaudreau maneuvered around Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei as they chased a loose puck along the boards, Gaudreau's centering pass to Matt Blody was poked away by Brett Pesce. Fiala snagged it in the slot, drifted to his left and snapped a shot past Andersen's right shoulder that scraped the underside of the crossbar.
That was the first goal against the Hurricanes, who have given up the fewest goals per game in the league, in a span of 127 minutes and 20 seconds.
Following the second intermission, the teams let loose. Kaprizov knocked in his own rebound for his 20th goal of the season to give the Wild a 2-0 lead at 1:16 of the third period. Gaudreau followed him just 78 seconds later, set up by a slick drop pass from a pivoting Fiala, and the fans fired up the “Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!” chant to taunt Andersen.
Then Svechnikov, the second overall pick in 2018 who is still just 21, single-handedly brought the Hurricanes back by finally solving the All-Star Talbot with a rocket from deep in the slot. Svechnikov tacked on another one, his 20th goal of the season, with a one-timer on the power play at the 6:23 mark.
The Hurricanes, who were coming off a 6-0 win at Boston on Thursday, allowed only one third-period goal over their previous three games and have the NHL's best goal differential in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
“It is as good a team as we’ve seen. They do everything well. Their depth is great. Their sticks are great. They play fast. They compete. They’re heavy. It’s a real good hockey club,” Wild coach Dean Evason said.
The game was postponed from Dec. 14, when six Hurricanes players were placed in the COVID-19 protocols in a 24-hour period. As that wave of cases washed over the league, the NHL backed out of the Beijing Olympics and used the space on the schedule this month to make up the 98 games that were called off between mid-November and mid-January.
Carolina right wing Derek Stepan (Hastings) and Skjei (Lakeville) are both natives of the Twin Cities area who had plenty of family and friends in attendance. This was their first game at Minnesota as a member of the Hurricanes, whose last visit to Xcel Energy Center was on Nov. 16, 2019.
Minnesota played without Marcus Foligno, who served the first game of a two-game suspension for kneeing Winnipeg's Adam Lowry against the Jets on Tuesday. Brandon Duhaime replaced Foligno on the second line. ... Jesperi Kotkaniemi cleared COVID-19 protocols and returned to Carolina's lineup after missing the last three games.
The Hurricanes host the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night, their first home game in 17 days.
The Wild host the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.
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