WILD (7-11-1) at HURRICANES (2-12-4)
Last 10 --
Minnesota 5-4-1; Carolina 0-8-2.
Season Series --
This is the second and final meeting between the teams this season. The Wild earned a 3-2 overtime victory against Carolina on Oct. 24. Cal Clutterbuck
had the game-winner at Xcel Energy Center.
Big Story --
A loss for Carolina on Sunday would be a historic one. The Hurricanes are 0-10-4 in their last 14 games since beating Florida 7-2 on Oct. 9 -- matching the franchise record for longest winless streak, set in 1992 when team was based in Hartford.
Minnesota is showing signs of snapping out of an early-season slump. Despite the Wild's 3-1 loss at Washington on Friday night, they are 2-2-1 this month as they attempt to climb back to the .500 mark. Sunday concludes a four-game road trip.
"I'm proud of the way the guys battled today," goalie Josh Harding
said after Friday's loss. "We played (Thursday) night and I thought we came out there and gave it our best shot. I would have liked to win the game, but sometimes it's not meant to be. We've got to take the positives out of the game and put them into the next."
Nothing is going right for Carolina these days. On Friday night, the Hurricanes rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force overtime, only to drop a 4-3 decision to the New York Islanders at the RBC Center. Kyle Okposo scored the game-winner after Bryan Rodney turned the puck over in his own zone.
"It's a good feeling that our team is still in the fight and can at least block out mentally the hole we're in and stay in the fight," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "That still allows you to come to the rink tomorrow."
Who's Hot --
It hasn't been easy for the Wild to fill the offensive void left by Marian Gaborik, but Mikko Koivu
is averaging nearly a point per game in the early going. The 26-year-old center has 5 goals and 12 assists in 19 contests. … Ray Whitney (5 goals, 5 assists) and Jussi Jokinen
(3 goals, 7 assists) are the only double-digit scorers on the Hurricanes' roster.
Injury Report --
Wild forward Chuck Kobasew (upper body) is not expected to play, while defenseman Shane Hnidy (foot) is questionable. Petr Sykora and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
are both suffering from concussions. Bouchard is out indefinitely, while Sykora's status is unknown. … Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward
(leg) is expected to miss a month and left wing Michael Ryan (concussion) is on injured reserve. Top center Eric Staal
has missed the past five games (upper body).
Stat Pack --
Manny Legace, who was brought in to replace the injured Ward, has lost his first two starts with Carolina, posting an .855 save percentage. Legace started the season with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League.
Puck Drop --
Something's got to give for Carolina, which hasn't won since Oct. 9. Despite Friday's loss to the Islanders, the Hurricanes are confident this month-long slump will soon come to a merciful end.
"You can see how close we are," forward Brandon Sutter
said. "It's just a matter of a bounce or two."