RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes have seen plenty of Marc-Andre Fleury throughout his NHL career. The longtime Penguins goalie and former member of the Golden Knights and Blackhawks made his first appearance in Raleigh with the Minnesota Wild.
But it looked like the same old Flower.
Fleury stopped 37 shots, including 15 in a second period, to lead the Wild to a 3-1 win in front of 16,375 Saturday at PNC Arena.
“When he’s starting to feel it, which he was tonight, he’s pretty tough to beat,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal, who played six seasons with Fleury in Pittsburgh, said.
By the time the Hurricanes finally scored — a Teuvo Teravainen redirection with 6:19 left — the Wild had made the most of their 19 shots on goal by building a three-goal lead.
The Hurricanes had twice as many shots and generated the chances they wanted but didn’t get the results.
“We played hard,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We did what we wanted to do. … It’s tough. The breaks didn’t go our way tonight, that’s for sure.”
That was mostly because of Fleury. The 37-year-old goalie, who was traded to the Wild from Chicago ahead of the deadline, was the difference for Minnesota.
“Flower’s a great goalie. There’s a reason he’s going to be a Hall of Famer,” said Hurricanes defenseman Ian Cole, who was Fleury’s teammate with the Penguins for two-plus seasons. “Supremely athletic. He makes saves that none or very few goalies can make, and we saw some of those tonight.”
The Wild also definitively won the special teams battle.
After the Hurricanes generated little on their first power play, the Wild made the most of their first chance.
After hitting the post early in the man advantage, Minnesota set up again and Mats Zuccarello wristed a shot past Frederik Andersen (16 saves) for a 1-0 lead just past the midway point of the opening period.
The Wild again parlayed a failed Carolina power play into a goal in the second period.
Dmitry Kulikov came out of the penalty box after serving a tripping penalty and joined the rush, and the Wild defenseman finished off the 3-on-1 with a shot that beat Andersen five-hole for a 2-0 Minnesota lead at 4:10 of the second.
“We just didn’t execute on the power play there, the one,” Brind’Amour said. “And even the one we gave up (to Kulikov) was a shorthanded one, essentially. We had a 3-on-1 at the net and we just miss the pass, and then the guy comes out of the box and they capitalize.”
The nail in the coffin came in the third period at even strength.
Wild star winger Kirill Kaprizov scored his 39th of the season by banking a bad-angle shot off Andersen’s blocker and in at 7:24 of the third period to give Minnesota an insurance goal and a three-goal cushion.
The Hurricanes finally scored when Teravainen — who missed much of the second period after taking a puck to the mouth that required stitches above his lip — cruised through the slot and ramped an Aho feed into the net to spoil Fleury’s chance for his first shutout with the Wild.
“He doesn’t really want you to think that,” Brind’Amour said when asked about Teravainen’s “sneaky” toughness. “He reminds me of Ray Whitney in a way in that they always pretend that they were something else. But deep down, a really competitive guy.”
Carolina pulled Andersen with nearly four minutes left in regulation and did get another by Fleury with 37 seconds remaining. But the goal off Nino Niederreiter was immediately waved off by the officials for incidental goaltender interference and was upheld by a brief review.
“I feel like if that would’ve been Crosby or McDavid, that would’ve counted,” Niederreiter said. “It’s pretty simple. You could clearly see that (Wild defenseman Jared) Spurgeon pushed me in, and there’s nothing you can do. I even tried to get out of the way and it luckily hit my shin and went in. It’s obviously frustrating, but it’s part of the game.”
After the final horn, a Wild fan threw a stuffed flower on the ice — a perfect conclusion for a game that was all about the veteran goalie.
“He was obviously dialed in tonight,” Brind’Amour said. “I’m sure they’re excited about why they got him, and that’s why. He definitely got them two points, that’s for sure.
Notes: Brady Skjei matched a career high with seven shots on goal. … Carolina won 40 of 67 faceoffs, including a 14-of-18 effort by Vincent Trocheck. … Teravainen had his six-game assist streak snapped but now has points in seven straight. … Aho also has points in seven straight. … Andersen is now 3-3-1 in starts in which he faces fewer than 20 shots.