RALEIGH — Despite a 5-2 win over the Wild, the Hurricanes’ locker room was somber on Thursday following Max Pacioretty being helped off the ice with 19 seconds remaining after appearing to reinjure the Achilles tendon just two weeks after returning to make his Carolina debut.
“It doesn’t look good, but we don’t know,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Pacioretty, who was hurt when he made a move alone below the goal line during an end-of-game power play.
“We’re going to have to tomorrow pick up the pieces and move on,” Brind’Amour added. “I mean, that’s just the nature of the game. But right now it’s tough to be too happy about a win when you know what more than likely is happening here.”
Inside the final minute, Max Pacioretty goes down and has to be helped off the ice. Awful, awful scene. pic.twitter.com/B6leVJRGqX
— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) January 20, 2023
Pacioretty has played just five games with the Hurricanes since coming over in a trade from Vegas, returning Jan. 5 and then scoring three goals in his next three games. He missed Carolina’s last two games with an unrelated lower-body injury but returned Thursday and played on the top line with Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis.
Now it looks like Carolina will have to move forward without the six-time 30-goal scorer.
“It definitely put a damper on the win a little bit,” said Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei, who scored his career-high 10th goal of the season and added an assist in the win. “After seeing how much work he’s put into this point, we’re just thinking about him right now. It was just really, really tough to see.”
After an opening period that featured three failed Carolina power plays — the last of which was immediately followed by a breakaway for the Wild’s Matt Boldy as he came out of the box that denied by Frederik Andersen (29 saves) — and goals by Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov and Carolina’s Brent Burns, the Hurricanes’ special teams took over.
Skjei, playing as the lone defenseman on one of the power play units for the first time since coming to Carolina nearly three years ago, snapped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury (24 saves) to give the Hurricanes their first lead at 13:33 of the middle frame.
Carolina didn’t trail again.
Less than three minutes after the Hurricanes took the lead, Teuvo Teravainen scored on a slow-developing shorthanded rush off a pass from Jalen Chatfield. Then Chatfield got the first multipoint game of his NHL career, scoring his fifth goal of the season on a snap shot from the point at 2:13 of the third for a 4-1 lead.
The power play got its second goal — and Skjei his first power play assist in his 185th game with Carolina — when Seth Jarvis set up Martin Necas for his 18th goal of the year on the Hurricanes’ fifth consecutive goal at 5:27.
After Boldy got a goal nearly two minutes later, Carolina forward Andrei Svechnikov received a five-minute major for cross-checking with 8:27 left in regulation.
But the Hurricanes killed off all five minutes to end any chance of a Wild comeback.
“That shorthanded (goal by Teravainen) was the one that put us by a couple,” Brind’Amour said, “and the kill was actually really good tonight. Obviously killed the last one on the five-minute (penalty).”
But the game ended with a thud when Pacioretty crumbled to the ice and had to be assisted to the locker room, putting no weight on his surgically repaired right leg.
“You need to feel this way,” Brind’Amour said of the atmosphere surrounding Pacioretty’s injury. “And then tomorrow we have to regroup and, like I said, it’s, ‘OK, now we have a new day and we’ve got to refocus.’
“But right now this is how you should feel.”
Notes: Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, who has been in trade rumors, was a healthy scratch. … Despite earning the most Twitter votes among Metropolitan Division players, Necas did not earn an All-Star Game spot.