Hurricanes blow three-goal lead to drop season opener in Winnipeg

Scheifele sends Jets past Canes in thriller

Bruce Fedyck—USA TODAY Sports
Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele caps off a three-goal Jets comeback with thewinning goal on Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Wardin overtimeat MTS Centre. Winnipeg won 5-4.

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The race for the Calder Trophy is on.One night after No. 1 draft pick Auston Matthews scored four goals in his Toronto Maple Leafs debut to take the early lead in the rookie-of-the-year race, the No. 2 selection Patrik Laine scored a crucial third-period goal to help the Jets erase a three-goal deficit and added an assist on the tying goal to help the Winnipeg Jets pull off a 5-4 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at the MTS Centre.None of it would have been possible if new Jets captain Blake Wheeler hadn’t intercepted a cross-ice pass near the Hurricanes blue line with about 15 minutes to go in the game, skated in on Cam Ward and ripped a low shot on the glove just nine seconds after the Hurricanes had jumped out to a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead.Laine, the 18-year-old Finnish phenom who has already been drawing comparisons to his legendary countryman Teemu Selanne, pulled the Jets within a goal when he whipped a wrist shot to the glove side to the top corner of the net at the 13:33 mark drawing the first standing ovation of the season.The right winger then sent the crowd into hysterics just minutes later with a seeing-eye cross-crease pass to Wheeler who made a quick touch pass to center Mathieu Perreault in the slot who then tapped it into a virtually empty net with just 91 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.Mark Scheifele, the Jets new No. 1 center, capped off the comeback on a two-on-one break with Wheeler when he ripped home a cross-crease pass at the 2:47 mark of the extra period.Laine, the MVP in last spring IIHF World Championships, said scoring his first professional goal in front of his new home crowd was quite unbelievable.”You only score the first goal once so it was quite special,” he said.”I’ve never been part of anything like that. When I scored the goal, the crowd was just unbelievable tonight. I just hope that we can keep the streak going and score some more goals.”He was quick to dismiss any comparisons with Matthews and said he didn’t feel any added pressure to match the Leafs center’s four-goal performance from 24 hours ago.”He’s playing his game and his career,” Laine said. “I don’t want to match my game to his. He can score 20 goals in a game, I don’t care. It’s good for him. I’m just going to help my team to win with my things.”Laine has a fan in Scheifele, who said the Finn’s first career marker inspired the rest of his teammates.”When you see a guy get his first goal, that’s awesome for him and awesome for the team. Especially being a big (draft) pick for us, that guy is going to be such a big contributor for years to come. He made some really great plays out there in the third. It was a really great period for him,” he said.Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said the first game of the season for both teams had more to a passing resemblance to Team North America’s run-and-gun style from the recent World Cup.”It’s very entertaining hockey. There’s a lot going on,” he said.”The (Sebastian) Ahos, the Matthews and the Laines of the world, they’re the real deal. They’re highly-touted guys who have been good for a long time.”Aho, in his NHL debut, assisted on Carolina’s fourth goal that seemed to ice the game for the Hurricanes with 14:58 left in the third period. But Wheeler’s shorthanded goal opened the floodgates for the Jets, who won in former Carolina coach Paul Maurice’s 200th game with Winnipeg.Shawn Matthias got the home crowd on their feet early when the center banked a shot off Ward’s back at 4:14 of the first period.The Hurricanes drew even at 11:23 of the period when Lee Stempniak found Jeff Skinner all alone in front of Connor Hellebuyck. Skinner, who led Carolina in goals last season with 28, had enough time to not only take a first shot but also bat in the rebound before any defenders could provide coverage.The Hurricanes took the lead early in the second period when Stempniak got his second point, scoring on the power play. Jordan Staal made it 3-1 with just 31 seconds to play second frame and Victor Rask appeared to have put the game out of reach just five minutes into the third when he snapped a power-play marker past Hellebuyck.Cue the comeback, something the Jets have hardly been known for since relocating from Atlanta in 2011.”We let this one slip away,” Stempniak said. “The atmosphere was great. It was a fun place to play a season-opener. I wish we could have got the win. It’s always fun playing here. It’s a great building, it’s loud, it’s sort of unrivalled around the league.”NOTES: The Hurricanes won both games over the Jets last season; a 5-3 win in Carolina in February and a 2-1 decision at Winnipeg in March. … The start of the game was delayed about 10 minutes as the Jets paid tribute to super fan Len Kropioski, 95, who died last month. The World War II veteran became a fan favorite early in the 2011-12 season after being shown on the scoreboard saluting during the national anthem. … Jets coach Paul Maurice spent 920 games during two stints behind the bench of the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers from 1995-2004 and 2009-12. … Youth is being served with the Jets as three veterans found themselves in the press box as healthy scratches; D Mark Stuart, RW Chris Thorburn and C Alex Burmistrov. Joining them from the Hurricanes were D Roland McKeown, RW Martin Frk and Phillip Di Guiseppe. … Stempniak now has registered points for 10 different NHL teams.