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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Minnesota Wild @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (20-27-12-4) at Minnesota Wild (21-25-16-2).

TIME: Sunday, 8 p.m. EST.

Last season's playoff darlings, the Minnesota Wild are getting dangerously close to falling completely out of contention for a postseason spot.

The Wild will try to end a three-game losing streak when they meet the Carolina Hurricanes at the Xcel Energy Center.

Making their first playoff appearance, the Wild enjoyed an improbable run to the Western Conference finals last spring, becoming the first team in playoff history to overcome a pair of 3-1 series deficits in the same postseason. Though it was knocked off by Anaheim one step shy of the Stanley Cup finals, Minnesota appeared to have a promising future.

Things have not gone according to plan in 2003-04. The Wild sit 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the West.

"It seems like it's the little details that are biting us," Minnesota goaltender Manny Fernandez said after Friday's 3-1 loss to Dallas. "We might have run out of gas a little."

Fernandez made 28 saves against the Stars, but fell to 0-5-6 in his last 11 decisions. He has not posted a win since a 3-2 victory over Buffalo on Dec. 13.

Kevin Weekes was a little more than a minute away from recording his team-record seventh shutout of the season for Carolina on Saturday. But Mike Ribeiro scored with 1:22 left in overtime as the Canadiens beat the Hurricanes 1-0.

The Hurricanes went 0-for-6 on the power play, but extended their point streak to six games (3-0-1-2).

STANDINGS: Hurricanes - 56 points, 4th place, 26 PB, Southeast Division. Wild - 60 points, 5th place, 22 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Josef Vasicek, 16 goals; Justin Williams, 24 assists; Vasicek and Williams, 33 points; Jesse Boulerice, 95 PIM. Wild - Sergei Zholtok, 13 goals; Andrew Brunette, 25 assists and 37 points; Matt Johnson, 151 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 27): Hurricanes - Power play: 11.8 percent (34 for 289), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (221 for 271), 26th. Wild - Power play: 13.4 percent (34 for 253), 27th. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (192 for 228), 17th

GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Weekes (19-23-10, 6 SO, 2.24 GAA); Arturs Irbe (1-0-0, 1.00). Wild - Dwayne Roloson (15-16-8, 4, 1.96); Fernandez (6-11-8, 1, 2.52).

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.

LAST MEETING: March 7; Hurricanes, 4-0. At Raleigh, N.C., Weekes extended his shutout streak to a career-high 131{ minutes, making 22 saves as Carolina earned a split of the season series.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 9-15-4-2 on the road; Wild - 13-13-6-1 at home.

Associated Press
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