The last time 30-year-old goalie John Curry played an NHL game was in 2009-10, when he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was his only appearance of the season and he allowed five goals on 14 shots in 24 minutes of work.
Since then, he’s played in Germany, Orlando, Houston and Iowa and has accumulated most of his games over that time in the ECHL. This season, he’s played 13 ECHL games and 19 American League games. Because of his strong play (.917 SP in ECHL, .920 SP in AHL) and a ton of injuries to Minnesota Wild goaltenders, Curry made it back to the NHL. He had been backing up Ilya Bryzgalov since April 3, but with the Wild’s playoff spot clinched and seeding locked in, coach Mike Yeo started the 5-foot-11, 189-pound Curry.
It was Curry’s first NHL appearance since his dreadful showing four years ago and it was against the powerhouse St. Louis Blues. No matter. Even though the Blues pounded the Wild by outshooting them 45-15, Curry was magical and pulled out a 4-2 win. If the picture up top is any indication, he also did it with his eyes closed!
Curry was good early and he was good often.
Curry’s road back to the NHL was longer and much more difficult than he originally anticipated, so his return is the culmination of a terrific underdog story. Making it even more enjoyable is the fact Curry grew up a Minnesota North Stars fan from Shorewood, MN., and he played squirt hockey against captain Zach Parise.
The Star Tribune’s Michael Russo wrote about Curry’s comeback earlier this week. From Russo:
In the past two years, Curry guesses he was shuttled back and forth between Orlando and the Wild’s AHL team based in Houston then Iowa 15 to 20 times. He sustained a bad injury in Houston last season, tearing his hamstring off the hip during a shootout in Charlotte. He underwent surgery, which required a six-month rehab. He also had sports hernia surgery last summer.
“But I knew I still wanted to play. I just didn’t know how my body would respond,” he said. “Luckily, the Wild gave me a job again.”
It was a great night for Curry and the Wild, but it was awful for the Blues. St. Louis has now lost four games in a row, allowing four goals in each, and is suddenly in danger of losing the Central Division title to Colorado. They also may be without T.J. Oshie, who left the game after receiving a blindside head shot from Mike Rupp.