Frustrated Wild look ahead to guest trip after loss to Hurricanes

RALEIGH, NC — Sometimes it’s hard to explain an outcome in hockey. Sometimes it’s easy.

In the second period Thursday night at PNC Arena, the Wild outshot the Carolina Hurricanes 15-7 and had a chance to tie the score on a power play when Frederik Andersen shot down every look while Marc-Andre Fleury could not.

The Hurricanes scored three times in short succession — at even strength, on the power play and while short-handed — and that would be all she wrote for the Wild’s three-game win streak with a 5-2 loss.

“They bury and they score goals, and we don’t, and you lose games like that,” said Mats Zuccarello, who was part of the No. 1 power-play unit that surrendered only the Wild’s second short-handed goal of the season and ultimately the winning goal to Teuvo Teravainen.

Fleury said it more succinctly.

“Andersen made a lot of great stops for them, and I didn’t do as much as he did,” Fleury said. “And it cost us.”

After a 0-0 first period that the Wild survived largely because of Fleury despite three penalties that they vehemently disagreed with and a 10-minute misconduct to Ryan Hartman for mouthing off to the officials, Kirill Kaprizov got the Wild going with his 100th career goal. off a setup from, you guessed it, his partner in crime, Zuccarello.

Twelve of Kaprizov’s 26 goals have come on the power play, and his 100 goals in 180 career games required the third-fewest games to reach 100 goals among active players behind Patrik Laine (179) and Alex Ovechkin (167).

But less than two minutes later, five Wild defenders got caught on one side of the ice, Matt Boldy got caught out to lunch, and Brent Burns took advantage by driving the net uncontested. He recognized that Fleury was without a stick and swept a backhander between his wickets. Fleury lost the stick in a collision with Hartman and opted not to take defenseman Jake Middleton’s stick because goalies don’t typically like using a skater’s stick.

But when Burns drove the net, Fleury said he was “screwed.”

“Usually, they don’t get a breakaway in in-zone play,” Fleury said. “On a breakaway, it’s easier with a stick. Straight-on shot, you don’t need it that much.”

After three solid penalty kills in the first period, the Wild were 16 seconds from killing Freddy Gaudreau’s high-sticking minor when Fleury was screened on a Brady Skjei shot. He said he never saw the puck until it was too late. Then, on a power play, Boldy turned one puck over and Zuccarello gave up a jailbreak odd-man rush as the Wild escaped. But after Joel Eriksson Ek couldn’t beat Andersen on the team’s third breakaway of the game, the Hurricanes flew out of the zone and Teravainen whistled his fourth goal past Fleury.

“The third one I wish I could stop,” said Fleury, who entered the game 5-2-1 in his previous eight starts with a 2.22 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. “It was a good shot, but still I want to make that save and keep us in the game.”

Last season, the Wild and Florida Panthers led the league with nine multiple-goal comeback wins each. This season, they’re strangely the only two teams in the NHL without a multigoal comeback win during a season when there have been more than 80.

So, it just felt like a two-goal deficit would be difficult to recover from for the Wild.

Well, early in the third, Jalen Chatfield made it 4-1 with a shot from the point. Coach Dean Evason challenged that Martin Necas interfered with Fleury. The NHL Situation Room disagreed, even though Fleury still felt after the game that Necas took his stick and blocker out of the play.

Fleury said the refs told him the league felt his stick was a little outside the blue crease and Necas didn’t do it intentionally, “which I don’t quite understand.”

The Canes got a power play out of the incorrect challenge, then a short five-on-three when Brandon Duhaime was called for a questionable roughing penalty. Necas capped a three-point night with a power-play goal.

Boldy, who had the latest in a string of tough games, snapped an 11-game goal drought with his first tally since Dec. 21, but the Wild couldn’t beat Andersen again despite a five-minute major and game misconduct assessed to Andrei Svechnikov for cross-checking Duhaime in the back of the neck. Andersen made seven saves on the five-minute power play.

Because of the inability to finish, because of a night’s worth of arguing with referees Marc Joannette and Frederick L’Ecuyer, the Wild called it a frustrating defeat.

“There’s circumstances that were out of our control, but there is some stuff we can make the group aware that can’t happen in order for us to give ourselves a chance to win hockey games,” Evason said. “You can say what you want about frustration and whatever, but we didn’t do enough to help ourselves win this hockey game, and they did.”

After the game, the Wild flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they’ll be holding their first guest trip since February 2020. Fathers, brothers, cousins ​​and mentors will join the team for games against the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, sit in on the team meetings, have a welcome reception on the beach Friday night and spend Sunday golfing, deep sea fishing or at Gulfstream Park before a team dinner.

On Monday, the group will fly from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, and the team will practice upon arrival. They will have a full group photo taken after practice. On Tuesday, the guests will take a tour of JC Newman Cigar Company in Ybor City while the players, coaches and staff continue their pregame routines.

The guests will receive custom Wild sweaters, a retro Wild guest trip concert poster and a handmade, glass Wild-logoed 2023 guest trip cigar holder.

“Once we get there and get this loss out of the way, it’s going to be good to enjoy some time with my brother and all of the families coming down,” Zuccarello said. “It’s a good way for us to show our families and everybody a part of our world.”

Alex Goligoski dresses for scratched Matt Dumba

With defenseman Matt Dumba scratched for the first time since 2016 despite a trade potentially coming down the pike, Alex Goligoski drew into the lineup after being scratched 26 times this season and in 14 of the previous 17 games.

Asked how he’s been handling the latest string of absences, Goligoski told The Athletic: “Yeah, OK, I would say. I mean, I’m obviously — I want to play, and it’s really frustrating when you’re not playing. At the same time, the team’s doing well, so I want that to continue. But I’d like to play a little more regularly.”

Goligoski’s agent, Ben Hankinson, is expected to be in touch soon with general manager Bill Guerin to inquire what’s going on. Goligoski said he has had casual conversations with Guerin in which the GM tells him to “stick with it, you never know what can happen, keep your head up.”

“But it’s tough,” said Goligoski, who has another year on his contract at $2 million and would almost certainly waive his no-move if he’s going to continue to be a nightly scratch in Minnesota. “I just want to play.”

The problem is Goligoski, 37, can still play and Guerin probably doesn’t want to move him, especially with Dumba on the trading block. If the Wild trade Dumba and don’t get a defenseman back immediately, they could bide time with Goligoski until Guerin can acquire one. Plus, in the NHL, it feels like the minute you trade a defenseman, two or three get hurt. And behind Goligoski on the depth chart are minor-leaguers Andrej Sustr and Dakota Mermis.

Max Pacioretty may have reinjured his Achilles

Max Pacioretty, who made his Hurricanes debut Jan. 5 after sustaining a right Achilles tendon tear during off-ice training in August, may have injured the same Achilles tendon with 19 seconds left.

Pacioretty, who had scored three goals in four games before missing the previous two games with a lower-body injury, had the puck behind the goal line and hit the brakes to make a pass to Seth Jarvis when his leg seemed to give out. He crumpled to the ice in pain, grabbed for the back of his leg and had to be helped off the ice and down the tunnel while putting no weight on his leg.

“It doesn’t look good,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I mean, we don’t know. But it doesn’t look good.”

Brind’Amour said Pacioretty, 34, will undergo an MRI on Friday.

“Hopefully, it’s not as bad as we think, but I’m not too optimistic right now,” Brind’Amour said. “Right now, it’s tough to be too happy about a win when you know what is more than likely happening here.”

In a salary-cap dump, Vegas traded the 2012 Masterton Trophy winner and 2014 US Olympian to the Hurricanes for future considerations. Pacioretty has 326 goals and 645 points in 855 career games.

(Photo of Brent Burns scoring on Marc-Andre Fleury: James Guillory / USA Today)

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