ST. PAUL, Minn. - Stephane Veilleux capped off Minnesota's three-goal second period with a shorthanded one and the Wild held off the Carolina Hurricanes for a 3-2 victory on Tuesday night.
Minnesota withstood Carolina's two-minute 5-on-3 advantage in the third period. Marian Gaborik and rookie Cal Clutterbuck also notched second-period goals, helping Minnesota erase a 2-0 deficit and win for just the third time in December (3-7-1).
Niklas Backstrom tallied 35 saves - including six during the Hurricanes' two-man advantage - to help Minnesota win for just the second time in its last nine games.
Rod Brind'Amour and Ray Whitney scored goals for Carolina, which failed to earn a point for just the second time in its last nine games. Mike Leighton stopped 20 shots, but fell to 1-5-2 in his last eight outings.
Minnesota allowed the first goal for the ninth consecutive game, falling behind when Brind'Amour snapped his 16-game scoring drought at 18:46 of the first period.
Carolina took a two-goal lead on a goal credited to Whitney at 1:35 of the second frame. Whitney was on the doorstep waiting to score on Joni Pitkanen's pass, but Minnesota defenceman Nick Schultz poked the puck through Backstrom's legs. The goal was Whitney's fifth in eight games.
But the Wild tightened up defensively and the offence woke up less than three minutes later.
Clutterbuck knocked home Minnesota's first goal at 4:17 after fancy stick work from Mikko Koivu to get in close and draw Leighton away from the net. Gaborik also assisted on Clutterbuck's third goal of the season and first since scoring two against Washington on Nov. 24.
Gaborik, in his fourth game since missing 27 with a lower body injury, buried his third goal this season on a power play at 8:18 of the second.
Veilleux's goal came 10 minutes later with Zidlicky sitting in the penalty box. After giving up 13 shorthanded goals in 2007-08, the Hurricanes have now allowed five this season.
Minnesota's second-ranked penalty-kill went on for a two-minute 5-on-3 after a 4-minute high-sticking penalty on Krys Kolanos at 3:13 of the third period and Antti Miettinen's hooking minor at 5:05. Carolina went 0-for-4 on the power play after entering the contest ranked 22nd in the league at 15.1 per cent.
Notes: Wild D Marc-Andre Bergeron missed his second game with a lower body injury and is not expected to return immediately following the two-day holiday break. ... C Eric Belanger was back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with an illness. LW Benoit Pouliot was a healthy scratch for the first time all season. Pouliot has no goals and just four points in his last 17 games after scoring five goals in Minnesota's first 15 contests. ... Carolina D Niclas Wallin sat out his eighth straight game with a leg injury. ... Whitney has a four-game points streak and has at least a point in nine of his last 10 games (5-7-12).