NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, October 24th
(All times Eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (4-2-3) at Minnesota Wild (4-3-3), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Carolina Hurricanes lost in Eric Staal's NHL debut
over 10 years ago.
Now with 699 career games under his belt, Staal will look to lead the
Hurricanes to a third straight victory on Thursday night when his club visits
the Minnesota Wild.
Staal is scheduled to skate in his 700th NHL game tonight and has certainly
made his mark on the Hurricanes franchise since it took him second overall in
the 2003 draft -- one pick after the Pittsburgh Penguins made goaltender Marc-
Andre Fleury the top overall selection.
The 28-year-old Staal has logged 271 goals and 363 assists for 634 points with
the Hurricanes, ranking second on Hartford/Carolina's all-time list in goals,
assists and points. He is behind only Ron Francis in all three categories.
Staal is set to become just the fourth player in team history to play in at
least 700 games with the franchise, joining Francis (1,186), Glen Wesley (913)
and Kevin Dineen (708).
The center has totaled three goals and seven points in nine games this season,
notching a pair of assists in Saturday's 4-3 win over the New York Islanders.
Jiri Tlusty scored twice, while Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner also scored.
Cam Ward made 22 saves in the victory, giving up two of his three goals on New
York power plays. He was also beaten at even strength with 1:01 left in
regulation before Carolina held on.
"We took some questionable penalties in the third that put us in a position
that we don't want to be in late," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "But
other than that, I thought we had a good effort."
Carolina has won the first two of a four-game road trip after losing three in
a row -- all at home -- and have won three of four as the guest this season.
The 'Canes wrap their current swing on Friday night in Colorado.
The Wild snapped a three-game slide with Tuesday's 2-0 win over the Nashville
Predators as Josh Harding made 16 saves for his first shutout of the season
and eighth of his career.
Justin Fontaine had the game's first goal late in the second period after
putting home a rebound of a Clayton Stoner shot, while Jason Pominville added
an empty-net score.
"We can't feel too good about (the win). We have to build off this," Minnesota
Wild head coach Mike Yeo said.
Minnesota will have to build tonight without defenseman Jonas Brodin, who
missed the majority of Tuesday's win after suffering a broken cheekbone when
he was hit in the face by a puck. There is no timetable for his return.
It is unknown if Yeo will stick with Harding again tonight or give Niklas
Backstrom his first start since exiting early on Oct. 8 due to injury.
Backstrom has dressed as the backup in each of Minnesota's last two games.
Harding, meanwhile, has won all three of his home starts this season while
stopping 48-of-50 shots faced. He currently leads the NHL with a 0.96 goals
against average and is second with a .953 save percentage in eight games.
Harding did lose his only previous matchup with Carolina, giving up three
goals on 28 shots, while Backstrom is 3-1-2 with a 2.76 GAA in six games
versus the Hurricanes.
Carolina has won four straight versus Minnesota, including a pair of games in
Helsinki, Finland to begin the 2010-11 campaign. Two of those four wins over
the Wild came in a shootout and Ward is 3-0-1 lifetime versus the club with a
The Wild, though, are 4-2-0 with a pair of ties in the eight all-time meetings
played in Minnesota.
10/24 10:44:47 ET