Carolina Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling, recalled Thursday from his conditioning stint with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, was back on the ice Friday at PNC Arena.
Darling, activated off NHL injured reserve on Monday, had 25 saves in the Checkers’ 3-1 win Wednesday over the Utica Comets and allowed the goal late in the game in Utica, N.Y.
Darling was at the Canes’ morning skate Friday as they prepared for the home game against the San Jose Sharks. Petr Mrazek will be the starting goalie against the Sharks, Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said, and Darling is expected to be the backup.
“It’s not real fun when you’re not in the lineup or partaking everything with the team,” Darling said after the skate. “It’s nice to get in there and feel good, and great to be back.”
Darling, injured Sept. 30 in the Canes’ final preseason game against Nashville, practiced with the team for a week before being sent to Charlotte.
“But in practice you can’t really replicate game reps, game situations, the intensity the screens and stuff like that,” Darling said.
Brind’Amour did not say when Darling would make his first start. The Canes (5-3-1) began a three-game homestand, Friday, and will face the New York Islanders on Sunday and the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
“I think it’s great for him he was able to heal up and play a game,” Brind’Amour said.
Darling, who lost 25 pounds in the offseason, was sharp throughout most of preseason training camp. He was placed on injured reserve Oct. 3 and the Canes claimed goalie Curtis McElhinney off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
McElhinney has a 3-1-0 record in four starts with a 2.76 goals-against average and .892 save percentage. Mrazek is 2-2-1 with a 2.64 GAA and .888 save percentage.
“(Darling) is obviously healthy now, so we can leave that question behind,’” Brind’Amour said. “Now we just have to figure out who’s the best guy to go and get us a win (Friday).”
Brind’Amour said he wasn’t sure how management would handle having three goalies on the roster, saying, “I don’t think that’s the plan but that’s one of those decisions that are kind of out of my hands. The good news is we like all three of them. That’s a pretty good problem to have.”
Brind’Amour said he relies on goaltending coach Mike Bales in making the decisions on how the goalies are slotted into games.