Staal scores twice more for Wild in 6-2 romp over Hurricanes

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Eric Staal's second goal of the night for Minnesota capped a franchise-record flurry to start the second period, and the Wild cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves for his fifth win in his last six starts, and the Wild raised their home record to an NHL-leading 24-5-6.

Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Daniel Winnik and Staal scored in a span of 3:28, the fastest four-goal stretch in Wild history that gave the home team a huge lead less than four minutes after the first intermission ended while fans were still filing back into their seats.

Winnik scored on his 33rd birthday, prompting Hurricanes coach Bill Peters to pull goalie Cam Ward for Scott Darling. Then, just 15 seconds later, on the first shot Darling faced, Staal broke free in the Carolina zone, faked right and dragged the puck left to poke a backhander in for his 36th goal of the season.

Staal, the second overall pick in the 2003 draft by the Hurricanes who spent 13 years with the club until a late-season trade, has 64 goals in 149 games with the Wild. That's tied for ninth in the league over the last two years. He's also tied for 17th with 132 points, and he's older than every player ahead of him in that span.

With 15 games to go, Staal has a solid chance at the third 40-goal season of his career. He has scored 10 times in his last nine games. In seven games since Jason Zucker and Mikael Granlund joined Staal on the first line, the trio has combined for 16 goals and 19 assists.

Staal's first score came 4:35 into the game on the power play after a tripping call on Victor Rask, adding to Carolina's NHL-leading penalty total. Parise's goal was also with the man advantage for the Wild, who entered the game ranked eighth in the league on the power play. The Hurricanes came in 22nd on the penalty kill.

Phillip Di Giuseppe and Derek Ryan scored for Carolina in the third period on Dubnyk, who has allowed only nine goals over his last five victories.

Matt Cullen, another long-time former Hurricanes player who teamed with Staal on the 2006 Stanley Cup champion squad, tacked on another score for the Wild.

The sign that this was the Wild's night came quickly in the second period, when Jared Spurgeon's slap shot from the point bounced off the neck of a ducking Niederreiter and past Ward with just 23 seconds elapsed. Two minutes later, Parise scored. Then came Winnik's snapper off the rush, ending Ward's night early.

The Wild, whose post-New Year's Day surge has thrust them into third place in the Central Division, are 10-3-2 in their last 12 games. They're 14-1-4 in their last 19 home games.

The Hurricanes are on the cusp of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but this was not the kind of performance that helps a team get in down the stretch. They came into the evening in 10th place, two points behind Columbus for the second wild-card spot.


Dubnyk's last shutout was on Feb. 10, a 44-save performance against Chicago. ... Wild rookie D Nick Seeler was ruled out with a strained right biceps, two nights after he engaged in an old-style, bloody fight with Detroit's Luke Witkowski. ... Hurricanes LW Joakim Nordstrom missed his fourth straight game because of an upper-body injury. ... Spurgeon and Ryan Suter had two assists apiece, and fellow blue-liner Jonas Brodin added one. Wild defensemen have 166 points in 67 games, the second-most in the NHL behind Nashville. The franchise record is 169. ... The Hurricanes had 31 shots on goal and lead the NHL with 52 games of 30-plus shots. ... The Wild are 9-3-2 all-time at home against Carolina, with five straight wins.


Hurricanes: Play at Chicago on Thursday, their last of three straight games against Central Division foes.

Wild: Play at Vancouver on Friday, followed by a back-to-back game at Edmonton on Saturday.