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→ The Carolina Hurricanes struck first, but the Minnesota Wild scored three unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes to grab a 3-1 preseason victory.
"We didn't have the puck enough, and we didn't make enough plays," head coach Bill Peters assessed in his first game back behind the bench. "We'll have to look at that and rectify that moving forward."
"Overall, I think the guys in the room worked hard, and the goalies played well and had some key stops at key moments to keep us in the game," Bryan Bickell said. "But, it wasn't the finish we wanted."
→ Because of course, former Hurricane Eric Staal netted the game-winning goal in the third period on a delayed penalty sequence. It was a quick snap wrister from the right dot that slid through Alex Nedeljkovic. Staal also added an assist on the night, feeding Charlie Coyle early in the second period to even up the score at one.
"When it comes down to it … a couple turnovers led to a couple goals," Bickell said. "Simple mistakes where we can adjust to get better."
→ Bickell received credit for the lone Hurricanes goal. On the power play, Derek Ryan got off a quick shot from the near circle that hit Bickell, who was providing net-front presence, and beat Devan Dubnyk.
"The key was to take Dubnyk's eyes away, and then it hit me. It was a good play to Ryan, and he just got an open lane to get a shot," Bickell said. "That started us off for a good first period."
"I thought Bicks was good," Peters said. "He was good 5-on-5, he went to the net, he's at the net, he knows how to play and he's heavy down in the offensive zone. We need more of that. It was good to see."
→ Other than that, the Hurricanes struggled to create much offensively. The team wasn't as crisp coming out of the defensive zone and moving through the neutral zone as they would have liked, and they managed just 17 shots on goal.
"We've got to make more plays. There were a lot of pucks in feet, and it was a little sloppy," Peters said. "We haven't made as many plays as we would like. The two games I've seen we haven't scored 5-on-5. Those are the things we're going to really work on here from now until the start of the season."
→ As has been the case in their first three preseason games, the Hurricanes continued to split goaltending duties. Michael Leighton played just over 30 minutes and made 20 saves on 21 shots. Nedeljkovic was sharp in the second half of the game, and he made 15 saves.
"Real good," Peters said of his netminders. "I thought Leights was real good, and we kind of ran out of steam it looked like there at the end and left Ned hanging a little bit."
Peters said he expects both Cam Ward and Eddie Lack to play full games this week.
→ Tonight was Peters' first game behind the bench after returning from the World Cup of Hockey. In practice the last couple of days and in the game tonight, Bickell, who played for Peters in the AHL, said the dynamic is a bit different.
"Excitement. There was a build-up for when he was going to come back," he said. "He knows what he's going to get out of me, and I Know what to expect out of him, so it's going to be an exciting year."
→ The Hurricanes' three-game exhibition road swing continues on Tuesday in Marquette, MI, the site of Kraft Hockeyville USA. The next night, the team will play another neutral site contest in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
"We need to have a good start," Bickell said. "We have a couple games left to tinker things and adjust, and then it's game on."