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Stingy Wild go for two in a row as Hurricanes pay visit

by Brian Hunter /

HURRICANES (4-2-3) at WILD (4-3-3)


Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild. In their most recent matchup, on March 17, 2012, a three-goal rally in the third period led the visiting Hurricanes to a 5-3 win at Xcel Energy Center.

Big story: Realignment saw both teams move to new divisions for the 2013-14 season. The Hurricanes are faring well in the brand-new Metropolitan, where they are second only to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Wild have had some issues with scoring goals, but are coming off a win against the Nashville Predators and are in a tie for third in the new-look Central.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes: Midway through a four-game road trip, Carolina got a little break in the schedule with four days off following a 4-3 win against the New York Islanders on Saturday. It could help several banged-up players on the Hurricanes, and defenseman Tim Gleason might be ready to make his season debut.

Jiri Tlusty, without a goal in eight games after scoring a team- and career-high 23 last season, broke through with a pair against the Islanders. Jordan Staal also scored his first of the season on a power play and Jeff Skinner continued his strong start with a goal.

"I can't lie. I was a little frustrated," Tlusty said in The Raleigh News & Observer. "I had chances but was missing the net. I put a lot of pressure on myself at the start of the season and it kind of was in my head and things weren't going well.

"I stayed with it and worked hard. Some nights weren't good but you have to keep focusing on working hard, and everything will just come to you."

Wild: Thanks to having the fourth-best team goals-against average in the NHL at 2.00, Minnesota has been able to overcome being in the bottom third of the League in scoring -- 2.10 goals per game. The Wild are No. 1 in fewest shots allowed at 21.2 per game.

They did even better than that on Tuesday, limiting the Predators to 16 shots. Josh Harding didn't let any of them past him, and so despite beating Pekka Rinne only once on a Justin Fontaine goal late in the second, the Wild were able to hold on for a 2-0 win aided by a Jason Pominville empty-netter.

"I can't take the credit for this one," Harding said. "If you watch the replays or the whole game over again, you can't say enough about what the D-men did, what the forwards did. That was as sound a game … breaking the puck out, blocking shots, good sticks. … This isn't me, this is for sure a team shutout."

Who's hot: Eric Staal has two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak for the Hurricanes. … Harding owns an 0.96 GAA and .953 save percentage for the Wild in eight appearances. The shutout Thursday was the eighth of his career.

Injury report: Gleason (concussion) has been practicing and is hopeful of coming off injured reserve for Carolina. Forward Nathan Gerbe (upper body) took a couple days off practice after taking an illegal check from the Islanders' Michael Grabner on Saturday, and is day-to-day along with forward Patrick Dwyer (upper body). Rookie forward Elias Lindholm (upper body) has missed the past four games and goalie Anton Khudobin (lower body) the past three games. … Minnesota defenseman Jonas Brodin suffered a broken cheekbone in Tuesday's game and is out indefinitely. Defenseman Keith Ballard (head) missed Tuesday's game. Forwards Mike Rupp (knee) and Charlie Coyle (knee) are on injured reserve.

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