Teammates congratulate Brandon Sutter (16) of the Carolina Hurricanes after scoring his second goal to give the Canes a 4-2 lead over the Minnesota Wild. MATTI MATIKAINEN - NHLI/Getty Images
Brandon Sutter had a pair of goals, and Jussi Jokinen a goal and assist today as the Hurricanes edged the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in the season-opener in the NHL Premiere at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.
Goals by Anton Babchuk, Jokinen and Sutter in the second period pushed the Canes ahead 4-2. The Wild pulled within 4-3 late in the third but Cam Ward (26 saves) and the Canes held on.
"For our first game out, our first game in Europe, the first game for two players and four others who had not played a lot, I'm pretty pleased with the result," Canes coach Paul Maurice said.
After a 1-1 first period, Babchuk gave the Canes 2-1 lead with a backhander at 5:58 of the second. Matt Cullen's power-play goal tied it 2-2 for the Wild, but a pair of Minnesota penalties -- the second a slash against Cullen -- gave the Canes a 5-on-3 advantage and Jokinen scored for a 3-2 lead.
Jokinen, playing before a host of friends and kin, attempted a centering pass to Eric Staal, only to have the puck elude Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom, another native Finn.
"I was just trying to get the puck to Eric in front of the net," Jokinen said. "I think I was a little lucky there."
Sutter, who was named the game's first star, then scored his second goal of the game at 18:03 off the rush. Pat Dwyer got off a shot from the right wing and Sutter scored crashing the net as the puck glanced off his skate.
"I think I took a swing at it and missed it," Sutter said. "It went off my skate and squeaked by the line. I'll take it.
"I went to the net a couple of times and there were a couple of good plays other guys made. I got a couple of greasy ones but that's fine by me."
Sutter's first goal came on the power play with nine seconds left in the first period after Dwyer drew an interference penalty on Cam Barker in the Wild's zone. Jussi Jokinen and Jamie McBain had assists on the Canes' first goal of the season.
"I thought we looked like a team in the first period that was a little nervous and looked like a team that had played on an Olympic-sized sheet the game before (in exhibition game in Russia)," Maurice said. "We settled down pretty well and played a good second. We're still learning how to handle two-goal leads in the third."
The Wild struck early in the game when Guillaume Latendresse was unchecked in the low slot and whipped a shot past Ward.
"I don't know that we necessarily got the start we wanted," Sutter said. "They played pretty good in the first period. We got some goals in the second and that gave us momentum for the third. Offensively we were good, moving around."
The Canes won despite going 33-52 on draws, an area they will need to continue to address.They did win three critical faceoffs late in the third.
"I was pretty nervous in the third," Jokinen said. "It's a special feeling to play in Finland, but to get that first win is a big thing for this team."