Hurricanes beat Minnesota 5-4
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Jaccob Slavin scored in the shootout and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Saturday night.
Victor Rask scored late in regulation and Sebastian Aho had two key assists while Noah Hanifin, Joakim Nordstrom and Derek Ryan also scored to help Carolina win its opener.
Mikko Koivu sent it to overtime by scoring in the final second of regulation. Jason Zucker, former Carolina captain Eric Staal and Chris Stewart also scored for the Wild.
Scott Darling made 23 saves in his debut as a full-time starter in the NHL and his first game with the Hurricanes, who traded for him during the offseason and then signed him to a four-year contract.
Slavin beat a sprawled-out Alex Stalock high with a backhand in the third round of the shootout, and Darling got a piece of Staal’s shot to end it.
It appeared as if Aho and Rask had made him a winner in dramatic fashion, with Rask taking a slick feed from the second-year forward and beating Stalock with a wrist shot with 1:34 left in regulation.
But Koivu whacked a loose puck past Darling amid a pile-up in front of the net just before the horn sounded, and an official review determined that Matt Dumba did not interfere with the Carolina goalie during the scrum.
Stalock stopped 38 shots for the Wild, who led 3-1 late in the second period after killing an 88-second, 5-on-3 disadvantage. Staal made it a two-goal game by shaking free near the blue line, skating in on Darling and beating him with a wrist shot with 6:17 left.
Then came Carolina’s rally: Ryan pulled the Hurricanes within a goal by redirecting a shot by Justin Williams with 3:40 left in the second, and Hanifin tied it at 3 after taking a pretty feed from Aho and slipping the puck past Stalock with 14:45 left in the third.
This is a season of promise for both teams, with Carolina aggressively adding players during the offseason in its bid to end the league’s longest active playoff drought (eight years) and Minnesota confident that it has kept its window for Stanley Cup contention open after spending almost exactly to the $75 million salary cap.
Since the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, the Hurricanes have not made the playoffs in any season in which they lost their first game at PNC Arena.
NOTES: RW Elias Lindholm also had two assists for the Hurricanes. … This was Jordan Staal’s debut as Carolina’s captain. Eric Staal held that position from January 2010 until he was traded to the Rangers in February 2016. … Four members of Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup-winning team were in uniform.
In addition to Hurricanes G Cam Ward and Minnesota’s Staal, Williams skated in his first game since returning to Carolina and C Matt Cullen is in his first season back with the Wild. … Minnesota C Mikael Granlund (groin) did not play.
Wild: Minnesota visits Chicago on Wednesday night to wrap up a three-game road swing to start the season.
Hurricanes: Carolina plays host to Columbus on Tuesday night before starting a four-game Western road trip.