Well, that game escalated quickly. But in a good way, for Minnesota Wild fans.
The Wild (38-22-7) set a franchise record for the fastest four goals in team history when they tallied four in a span of 3:28 early in the second period as part of a 6-2 home victory over the Carolina Hurricanes (29-27-11) on Tuesday. Five different goal scorers for the Wild got in on the act, led with a pair of goals from -- who else? -- former Carolina Hurricanes player Eric Staal.
“I think all four lines contributed tonight, which was great,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau.
It’s the eighth time this season the Wild has scored at least six goals. The last time was just a week ago in a 8-3 win over St. Louis. They also have at least five goals in 15 games this season.
“When we get momentum in this building [goals] seem to come in bunches,” Staal said.
The Wild took a 1-0 lead 4:35 into the game with Staal’s first goal, on the power play. That was all fine and good, but the defense had some trouble the rest of the period. Devan Dubnyk looked to be on top of his game, so he kept the game scoreless at the first intermission. His best save was on a breakaway to Sebastian Aho after a Matt Dumba turnover.
“He was great... Duby saved us in the first 10 minutes,” Boudreau said.
Then the second period started, and the Wild had some fun.
Jared Spurgeon took a shot from the point, and the puck bounced off Nino Niederreiter like a human pinball machine and into the net for a 2-0 lead just 23 seconds into the second for his first goal in 10 games.
“Sometimes that’s what it takes is a puck going off your head,” Boudreau said. “You need that lucky break to feel good about yourself again.”
Exactly two minutes later on the power play, Zach Parise scored his third goal in five games on a perfect deflection at the goalmouth off a Mikko Koivu shot from the top of the circles. That made it 3-0.
Then the birthday boy Daniel Winnik took a long-range shot coming into the Carolina zone. With the way goaltender Cam Ward’s night was going, the puck from the back of the net. Happy 33rd birthday to Winnik. He also had a team-high seven shots on goal.
After that, Cam Ward skated toward the dressing room after a short night of work. As noted by FSN color commentator and former Wild player Wes Walz, Ward showed early on that he wasn’t seeing the puck very well. It certainly seemed to be the case.
With Scott Darling in the game, Staal didn’t waste much time putting out the welcome mat for him. Staal scored off a rush, making a nice move to fake out the goaltender for a 5-0 lead. Later in the second, Staal had a solid scoring chance broken up on what arguably could have been a penalty. He was looking for a hat trick when the game wasn’t even half way finished. Staal has 36 goals this season, the most since he scored 40 goals in 2008-09 with Carolina.
Dubnyk lost his shutout bid with 10:37 left in the third period when a bad bounce found its way into the net. Phillip Di Giuseppe got credit for the goal, his second of the season. Matt Cullen also scored against his former team when he made it 6-1 with his ninth goal of the season with 5:14 left in the third. He has four goals in his past nine games.
Carolina’s Derek Ryan made it 6-2 with 1:41 left in the game.
It wasn’t just the goal scorers that had good nights. Koivu extended his point streak to five games with his assists on the Niederreiter and Parise goals. Ryan Suter and Spurgeon also had a pair of assists. It marks Suter’s ninth multi-assist game of the season and 65th in his career. He leads the team in assists with 41.
The Wild improve to 24-5-6 at home this season with points in 26 of their past 28 games on home ice.
“It’s not secret we’re a good team at home, and the crowd has a lot to do with it,” Parise said.
Staal has three goals and one assist in two games against Carolina this season.
The Wild and Carolina split the season series, each winning their home game.
The Wild went 2-for-2 on the power play.
Dubnyk is two wins away from 200 in his career. He’s 7-2-0 in 10 career games against the Hurricanes.
The Wild are 10-3-3 in their past 16 games against Carolina.
The Wild hit the road for back-to-back games in Vancouver and Edmonton on Friday and Saturday while Minnesota hockey fans flock to Xcel Energy Center to watch the boys’ state high school hockey tournament.