ST. PAUL, Minn. — John Curry knew of family members and friends coming to see his first game as a member of the Minnesota Wild. He’s sure there were others, but the Shorewood, Minn., native shut his phone off a couple of days before his start against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Curry will likely have a lot of messages when he turns his phone back on.
Playing in an NHL game for the first time since Jan. 16, 2010, Curry made a career-high 43 saves to backstop Minnesota to a 4-2 win against St. Louis, a possible first-round playoff opponent.
"I just tried to take it shot by shot," Curry said. "It was good to get a good start, I think. I sat all day. To be honest with you, I was so nervous for this game, just a big stage for me. To have a good start, get those first few saves, it gets you into a rhythm and you fall right into it."
Curry fell right in line with the Wild’s other goaltenders. He became the fifth goaltender to earn a win for Minnesota this season and the fifth to start against the Blues.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Wild are the first team to start five goaltenders against one opponent in a single season since the Los Angeles Kings started five against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2007-08.
Earlier this season, Curry became the seventh goaltender to suit up for Minnesota in a game. And despite the changes in net, Minnesota has won with each netminder.
"It’s great to chip in," Curry said. "I know all the goalies, despite there being a lot, have played well. I felt a lot of pressure just for myself but also for the team the way things have been going and getting into the playoffs and wanting to put on a good performance."
In addition to keeping the Wild’s streak — now 6-0-1 in the last seven games — going, Curry had more on his mind. He’s trying to re-establish an NHL career for the first time since 2010. He played in four games in two seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins before his career took him to Germany and back.
Minnesota signed Curry to a two-way contract in February after he went 10-2-0 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .917 save percentage for the Orlando Solar Bears of the East Coast Hockey League. He played in 19 games for the Wild’s American Hockey League affiliate in Iowa with a 7-9-2 record, 2.62 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.
After calling Thursday night a "big stage" against St. Louis, Curry spoke about trying to make his mark in the NHL.
"That’s why I put so much pressure on myself, to tell you the truth," Curry said. "I was obviously very thankful to get the opportunity, no matter how it went. But just based on my career, I know you don’t get many of these. So it’s good to have success and to play well when you get the chance."
He impressed his teammates, including snapping his glove with one shot swiped out of the air.
"He was phenomenal," said forward Nino Niederreiter, who opened the scoring with his 14th goal. "He made some unbelievable saves. I’m sure one of the saves is going to be on NHL Tonight."
Curry set a season-high for a Minnesota goaltender with 43 saves, with coach Mike Yeo calling him a "battler" and a "gamer."
"Obviously very pleased for him," Yeo said. "That was a long road back for him and just nice to see him get rewarded with a performance like that."
Of course, his long road back nearing an end made for a nervous day.
"You just want the game to come and you’re sitting there watching TV, trying to pass the time, trying to stay relaxed and it’s nearly impossible," Curry said. "Just glad to get to the rink and get things on the road."
Once he got on the ice, the nerves never showed.
"I thought very early in the game he looked very calm and in control," Yeo said. "I’m sure there was butterflies, but his play didn’t reflect it, that’s for sure."
His phone certainly will reflect his game when he turns it back on.