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Hurricanes shoot for third straight as Wild visit

by Brian Hunter

WILD (9-4-4) at HURRICANES (6-7-3)


Last 10: Minnesota 6-2-2; Carolina 4-5-1

Season series: This is the second of two meetings between the Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes. The Wild won 3-1 at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 24, a game in which each team lost its starting goaltender. Cam Ward (lower body) hasn't returned for the Hurricanes, and Josh Harding missed a couple starts for the Wild with his own lower-body ailment but has since come back and continued playing brilliantly.

Big story: Justin Peters was relegated to an afterthought when the Hurricanes signed Anton Khudobin during the offseason to back up Ward. After both goalies went down, Peters didn't do himself any favors by losing his first five decisions, leaving him with a 15-27-4 mark in parts of five NHL seasons. In his past two starts, however, Peters has been superb. He's backstopped the Hurricanes to consecutive wins to begin a five-game homestand and likely gets another go Saturday.

Team Scope:

Wild: In a three-game winning streak to start the month, Minnesota scored 13 goals for its best offensive stretch of the season. The Wild got goals Thursday from a couple of their young stars, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund, and carried a 2-1 lead into the latter stages of the third period at the Washington Capitals.

It didn't hold, as a Marcus Johansson goal deflected off defenseman Nate Prosser with 3:08 left, leading to Nicklas Backstrom's shootout tally and a 3-2 loss. Still, coach Mike Yeo found a silver lining.

"We've got young kids in our lineup, and we're counting on these guys," Yeo said in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Part of how good we can become is how good they can become. We're giving them good opportunity and they're responding."

Hurricanes: The injury bug didn't just bite Carolina in goal, as the Hurricanes have been without leading scorer Jeff Skinner and veteran defenseman Tim Gleason. Skinner's absence in particular has made goals harder to come by, as Peters eked out a 2-1 overtime win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday and then had to be even better facing the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Peters faced 21 shots and stopped them all for his third career shutout and Radek Dvorak scored the only goal of the game 6:39 into the first period as the Hurricanes claimed a 1-0 victory.

"I feel confident, and I feel really confident in this team. I feel really confident in the trust we have in each other, and that's been building for a while now," Peters told the team's website. "It's nice for the guys to get rewarded with the hard work they're doing, the way they're playing and the trust we have in each other."

Who's hot: Zach Parise has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak for the Wild. Granlund has two goals and six assists in his past seven games. Harding continues to lead the NHL in goals-against average (1.16) and save percentage (.949). … Peters has stopped 49 of 50 shots on the Hurricanes' homestand for a .980 save percentage.

Injury report: Minnesota defenseman Clayton Stoner (upper body) is day-to-day. Defenseman Keith Ballard (upper body) is out indefinitely. Forward Mike Rupp (knee) is on injured reserve. … Carolina coach Kirk Muller said Skinner (upper body) is about two weeks from returning. Ward, Khudobin (lower body) and Gleason (upper body) have been skating during off-ice workouts. Forward Kevin Westgarth (upper body) is sidelined.

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