MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Wild defeat Carolina; Harding hurt
ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Wild got first-period goals from Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise and went on to skate by Carolina 3-1 in an NHL game at the Xcel Energy Center last night. Dany Heatley added the final goal with 26 seconds left in the game, a power-play empty-net score. The Wild improved to 5-3-and-3 on the season. Josh Harding had 20 saves for Minnesota before leaving due to injury. Niklas Backstrom relieved Harding to help preserve the victory. Alexander Semin netted the only goal for Carolina, which slipped to 4-3-and-3 overall. Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward stopped five shots before leaving with a lower body injury that will keep him out three-to-four weeks. The Wild are at Chicago Saturday night.
Detroit's Josh Smith nailed a 3-pointer as time expired to sink the Timberwolves in a 99-98 NBA preseason loss to the Pistons near Detroit. It was the final preseason game for both teams. Kevin Love had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves in the loss. Minnesota finished 4-and-3 in the preseason and opens the regular season at home against Orlando next Wednesday.
The Wolves are close to closing a deal that will keep forward Derrick Williams with the team for the next two season, according to reports. Williams is a former second overall pick in the NBA draft. He averaged 12 points and five-and-a-half rebounds a game in 2012-2013.
Two teams headed in opposite directions match up on "Sunday Night Football" with the Green Bay Packers traveling to the Twin Cities to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Green Bay has won three in-a-row despite dealing with a rash of injuries and is in first place in the NFC North at 4-and-2. The Packers will look to lock down wide receiver Greg Jennings, who left the organization to sign with Minnesota after seven seasons. Jennings will be catching balls from quarterback Christian Ponder. Josh Freeman started the Vikes' 23-7 loss to the Giants, but can't go with a concussion. Ponder hasn't played since Week Three. Minnesota is 1-and-5. The Packers eliminated the Vikings in the NFC Wild Card round last season. Kickoff on Sunday at the Metrodome is set for 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson says he will play through a hamstring injury this weekend. The Vikings face the Packers on Sunday night. Peterson told reporters he was hesitant to push himself on Monday night in a loss to the New York Giants and gained only 28 yards on 12 carries.
When the Vikings host the Packers on Sunday night at the Metrodome, it will mark the final time the two long-time rivals will play a regular season game inside the lame duck facility. There have been 30 previous matchups in the Metrodome between Minnesota and Green Bay, with the Vikings holding a 16-and-14 series edge under the inflated roof, including wins in three of the last five games in the Twin Cities. Overall, the Packers lead the all-time series with 55 wins, 49 losses and one tie. This will also be the fourth meeting between the two teams in a Sunday Night Football prime time matchup, with Green Bay winning three of the four Sunday evening encounters.
Future hall of fame quarterback Brett Favre isn't coming out of retirement any time soon. ESPN reports he declined an offer this week after the St. Louis Rams came calling. Favre finally retired for good in 2011 following stints with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings after a lengthy career with the Green Bay Packers. The Rams reportedly contacted the 44-year-old after losing starting quarterback Sam Bradford for the season due to injury.
The University of Minnesota football team continues to prepare for this weekend's showdown against No. 21 Nebraska The 5-and-1 Cornhuskers were off last week, and have won both Big Ten games this season, convincing victories over Illinois and Purdue. The 5-and-2 Gophers snapped a two-game skid with an upset road win at Northwestern last Saturday. Gopher receiver Derrick Engel of Chaska says last week's victory gives the team a jolt of confidence and he hopes they can carry it forward to this weekend and "play their game." Tomorrow's kickoff at TCF Bank Stadium is set for 11 a.m.
Governor Dayton and other statewide elected officials this morning (9am start) consider the D-N-R's request to approve 31 non-ferrous mineral mining leases in northeastern Minnesota. Attorney Paula Maccabee represents a group of 175 people who oppose it, and warns the state is planning to auction and sell mineral leases without any environmental review or citizen input. Maccabee says when those leases are sold, drilling can take place right away and it restricts the state's discretion on where mineral activities will take place. But the group Jobs for Minnesotans say voters respect the D-N-R's ability to oversee new mining projects. They say a recent survey found a majority of voters think government regulations on mining should either remain the same or be less strict.