John Curry had just made a career-high 43 saves in his first NHL appearance in four years. He had just done the NHL Network’s Arena Cam, then chatted with Wild color analyst Tom Reid on the radio.
The Shorewood, Minn., native was about to begin his third round of postgame interviews when the 30-year-old goalie sheepishly asked a Wild media relations member if she minded him sitting down.
Curry sunk into the first stall he saw, cameras and reporters surrounded him, and he fielded questions just as calmly as he fended off the St. Louis Blues’ barrage of shots during a 4-2 Wild victory.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was so nervous for this game. Just a big stage for me,” said Curry, a career minor-leaguer playing his fifth NHL game in his seventh pro season. “I was very thankful to get the opportunity no matter how it went, but I know that just based on my career, you don’t get many of these.”
Curry, a 2000 Breck state champion and former Boston University star and Pittsburgh Penguins farmhand, was spelling Ilya Bryzgalov, who had started six games in 11 nights. Curry entered the game with 72 career saves, his last NHL game coming Jan. 11, 2010. His 43 stops were the most by any of the Wild’s five goalies this season.
“It’s great to chip in,” said Curry, who posed for a picture with Gov. Mark Dayton after the game. “I know all the goalies, despite there being a lot, have played well. So I felt a lot of pressure.”
The Wild, outshot 45-15, won its fourth in a row and improved to 6-0-1 in its past seven. It chased Ryan Miller, who gave up four goals on 13 shots, and handed St. Louis, which has lost the top spot in the Western Conference and might be the Wild’s first-round playoff opponent, its fourth consecutive loss and fifth in seven games. However, if the season ended today, the Wild would face Colorado in the first round.
Kyle Brodziak, goalless in 17 games, scored twice and was plus-3. Nino Niederreiter had a goal and an assist, Matt Moulson scored a goal, Matt Cooke assisted on two, and Christian Folin, making his NHL debut, had an assist and was plus-3.
But the story for the Wild was Curry, signed in February to provide goalie depth.
Early, Curry looked like his pregame prep included 43 Red Bulls. During one first-period sequence with the Blues all over him, Curry was along the ice and did a whirling-dervish-looking move to get back to his feet.
But despite being outshot 17-5 in the opening period, Curry allowed the Wild to take a 1-0 lead on Niederreiter’s 14th goal.
“I’m sure there were butterflies, but his play didn’t reflect it, that’s for sure,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
All heck broke loose in the second when, on a delayed penalty, Mike Rupp was assessed a match penalty for nailing Blues star T.J. Oshie with a shoulder to the chin. Rupp faces a suspension.
The Blues got a two-minute 5-on-3, and Kevin Shattenkirk tied the score. But Brodziak gave the Wild its lead back with his third career shorthanded goal, then the Wild killed off the major.
Jaden Schwartz tied the score on a shorthanded goal of his own, but Moulson scored late in the second before Brodziak scored again early in the third.
“It felt good, I’m not going to lie,” said the normally snakebit Brodziak.
The Wild, which stopped a nine-game winless streak (0-6-3) against St. Louis, knows it was outplayed. But players also felt they made a statement that the Wild can stand up to the physical Blues.
“We know who they are, we know what they’re capable of, and what they’re about,” Brodziak said. “And we just wanted to prove to ourselves that we can play with anybody.”