RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes had just started to get their first looks at Max Pacioretty, who they hoped would become another needed scoring option for a Stanley Cup contender.
Now they look likely to be without him because of a significant injury, one that overshadowed Thursday’s win against Minnesota.
The winger went down with 19.3 seconds left in the 5-2 win against the Wild on a non-contact injury. Pacioretty was skating with the puck near the goal and the boards when he pulled up and grabbed at the back of his lower right leg.
Acquired from Vegas in a July trade, Pacioretty had to be helped to the locker room while putting no weight on that leg — the same that required surgery for a torn Achilles tendon over the summer.
“We know what kind of player he is,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We got a glimpse of it and that was exciting. It’s the kind of player that we needed, a guy who could put the puck in the net. But hopefully it’s not as bad as we think, but I’m not too optimistic right now.”
Pacioretty made his season debut on Jan. 5 and played four games, but he had missed the past two with a lower-body injury.
“It’s just really tough to see,” defenseman Brady Skjei said.
Skjei, Brent Burns and Jalen Chatfield scored to give Carolina another productive offensive outing from its blueliners while Frederik Andersen was strong in net to lead the Hurricanes.
Burns and Skjei each scored during a three-goal second period for Carolina, while Chatfield added a third goal from a defenseman.
Carolina entered the game with 20 goals and 67 points from defensemen since Nov. 25, which was third in the NHL behind Winnipeg and the New York Rangers. Defensemen have now scored 10 of Carolina’s last 16 goals over four games.
Teuvo Teravainen added a short-handed goal in the second period while Martin Necas scored in the third, helping the Hurricanes blow the game open after a scoreless first period against Marc-Andre Fleury.
Andersen, meanwhile, remained steady all night to finish with 30 saves, including multiple stops that had Carolina fans chanting his name.
Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy scored for the Wild. Minnesota had won three straight games and earned at least a point in six straight road games, but those streaks ended with Carolina pushing ahead in the second period and then scoring twice early in the third to take a 5-1 lead. Kaprizov’s goal came on the power play for a 1-0 lead.
It didn’t help, too, that the Wild committed eight penalties, including one in the game’s opening minute that had Fleury facing four quick shots. Carolina scored a pair of goals with the man advantage.
“It put us on our heels, right?” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “And then we still get through it and still played well, but they just kept coming, the penalties. Obviously they get enough looks and they’re going to score some goals.”
Carolina forward Andrei Svechnikov was ejected midway through the third period on a game-misconduct penalty for cross-checking Minnesota’s Brandon Duhaime.
Duhaime went head-first into the boards on Svechnikov’s high shove from behind at the 11:33 mark, setting off a brief tussle between the teams. Duhaime got up on his own and appeared to be OK.
That forced Carolina, leading 5-2, to turn away a 5-minute major penalty.
“He’s got to be smarter,” Brind’Amour said, “I know how competitive he is. It’s just, we’re up by three, it’s not a time to even be thinking about being physical. I don’t know, he’s got to learn, he’s got to learn it.”
NOTES: Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba was a healthy scratch to miss his first game. Evason said earlier Thursday it was for on-ice issues but didn’t get into specifics. … Kaprizov’s second-period score marked the 100th of his career. … Teravainen’s goal ended an eight-game goal-less streak.
Wild: At Florida on Saturday.
Hurricanes: At the New York Islanders on Saturday.
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