RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t take a conventional route to their first season-opening win since 2011, but they’ll take it anyway they can get it.
Carolina rallied from a two-goal deficit, took the lead in the third, saw the game get tied with less than a second remaining, then won in the shootout to get the 5-4 win in front of a sellout crowd Saturday night at PNC Arena.
“In the years past we’ve been getting off to slow starts, so to be able to get that first win under our belt for the first game it’s huge momentum for us going forward here,” said Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who scored the shootout winner with his patented backhand move.
Scott Darling, making his first start as Carolina’s goalie, stopped all three shooters he faced, including a nice glove save on Wild captain Mikko Koivu, to earn the win. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said Koivu has scored on that move “many times over the years.” When asked when teams would read the book on Slavin’s move, he simply replied, “Shh.”
One thing that couldn’t be quieted Saturday was the Carolina crowd, especially in the third period as the Hurricanes erased a deficit and then moved in front with 94 seconds left.
Sebastian Aho, taking a feed from Elias Lindholm, spun through the middle of the ice and set up Victor Rask for a one-timer that beat Alex Stalock (38 saves) to give the Hurricanes the lead.
The Wild (0-1-1) used all 94 of those seconds to tie it, with captain Mikko Koivu scoring with 0.3 seconds left on a play that was reviewed for goaltender interference but ruled good.
“He didn’t have an opportunity to play his position,” Peters said with a mock laugh.
Neither team could finish it in overtime, the best chance coming for the Wild on a 2-on-0 breakaway that rolled off a stick courtesy the choppy ice.
Neither Stalock nor Darling (23 saves) allowed a goal during the first four shooters, then Slavin went backhand to give Carolina the edge.
“It just kind of happens out there,” Slavin said of his go-to shootout move. “I’ve just been doing it for a while. I couldn’t tell you exactly what goes through my mind.”
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau sent out Eric Staal — who had already scored earlier on a breakaway and earned an assist on the Koivu tying goal against his old team — to try and tie it. Darling stopped him.
Darling was not available to talk after the game, and Peters said he believed the goalie was just dehydrated.
“I think, to be honest with, I think he’s just getting an IV. I hope that’s all it is,” the coach said.
Carolina came out fast, but Minnesota struck first.
With Noah Hanifin in the box for slashing — the “it” penalty in preseason — Matt Dumba fired a perfect pass to Jason Zucker for an easy tap-in and a 1-0 Wild lead at 6:30 of the first.
Five minutes later, Peters sent the Carolina fourth line out for the final five seconds of their first power play of the season and it paid off. Marcus Kruger, in his first game with the Hurricanes, fired a bad angle shot at Stalock, and in the scramble to get the puck Joakim Nordstrom jabbed it in after the penalty expired to tie it 1-1.
The Wild went back ahead late in the first. Jared Spurgeon sprung Chris Stewart on the right wing, catching Hanifin out of position as he walked in and beat Darling to make it 2-1 after a period.
Carolina’s power play got another chance, but it failed to even register a shot on an extended 5 on 3 and the following man advantage. Eric Staal then got behind the Hurricanes defense on a broken play and snapped one past Darling to make it 3-1.
Carolina did get their revenge on the power play late in the second.
Stalock robbed Justin Williams of a goal early in the man advantage, but shortly after Williams ripped a wrister that Derek Ryan redirected into the top corner to cut the lead to 3-2.
With 14:45 left, the Hurricanes tied it on a beautiful sequence. Sebastian Aho carried the puck into the zone and found Elias Lindholm. Lindholm returned the puck and Aho feathered a pass to Hanifin jumping in from the left point, firing the puck past Stalock to tie it.
Notes: Stewart, in his 600th NHL game, scored for the second time in as many games. … Aho and Lindholm each had two assists. Aho had a team-high five shots on goal. Eric Staal led all players with six shots. … The Wild didn’t have a shot for nearly nine minutes in the third period until the sequence in which Koivu tied it. … Minnesota outhit Carolina 27-12, but was outshot 42-27. … Koivu took 27 faceoffs, winning 16. … Haydn Fleury and Janne Kuokkanen made their NHL debuts, playing 14:23 and 9:51, respectively. … Trevor van Riemsdyk left the game early in the third period after crashing into the boards, but returned 11 minutes later.