The Carolina Hurricanes opened their 20th anniversary season on Saturday night with a 5-4 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild. The last time the Hurricanes won their season opener was in 2008, which was also the last time they made the playoffs.
The crowd inside of PNC Arena was rocking Saturday night as the Canes faithful are in high hopes for a playoff season this year. After introductions, the crowd and the players were ready to start the hockey season. Carolina dominated play early, keeping the puck for most of the first five minutes of play. Hurricanes defenseman, Noah Hanifin, was sent to the penalty box early with a slash, which gave the WIld the first Power Play opportunity. Jason Zucker silenced the crowd when he scored on the power play for the Wild.
Joakim Nordstrom opened the scoring for the Hurricanes five minutes later off the rebound of a shot by Marcus Kruger. After the Canes finally got the crowd back into it, they could not get the puck back from the Wild before Chris Stewart scored on the backhand to make it 2-1 in favor of the visitors.
The Hurricanes power play was in the bottom 10 of the league last year, and on Saturday night, it did not really improve. Chris Stewart went to the box for a face-off violation, and less than a minute later, former Hurricane, Matt Cullen, got a penalty for hooking. Carolina had a two man advantage for a minute and a half, and they could not capitalize on the opportunity. After that power play ended, both teams seemed to be struggling to stay on their feet and continued to fall down at random times. One of these instances happened after a pass went wide and former Canes Captain, Eric Staal, scored a goal on a breakaway to put the Wild up 3-1. The Hurricanes’ Derek Ryan would answer back on a deflection from Justin Williams on the power play to make it 3-2 at the end of the first period.
Noah Hanifin Scored an early goal in the third to tie the game at three. The Canes played really well in most of the third period, and Victor Rask scored the go ahead goal with less than two minutes left, and it looked like Carolina had sealed it.
With five seconds left in the game, the Wild had a scramble in front of the net that led to a controversial goal with less than a second left to tie it. The Hurricanes and their fans thought that a goaltender interference penalty was committed against Scott Darling, who was making his Hurricanes debut.
The overtime period was uneventful, with only two shots on goal for each team, and the game would be forced into a shootout. Only one goal was scored in the shootout, and it was the Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin. Minnesota’s last chance came with Eric Staal who received a series of loud boos as he was stopped by Scott Darling to seal the win for Carolina.