COLUMBUS OH - SEPTEMBER 28: Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards watches as his team takes on the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period on September 28 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Wild Lose Season Opener Against Hurricanes

The Wild lost the opening game of the season, 4-3 to the Carolina Hurricanes. It was a sloppy game, following a pattern the Wild have set for themselves.

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Wild Begin Season With Same Old Song And Dance According To Star Tribune

If fans weren’t able to watch Thursday afternoon’s Minnesota Wild game against the Carolina HurricanesMichael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune opines that they didn’t miss anything they haven’t witnessed in season’s passed.

A solid start, one in which the Wild was on the puck and outskated and outmuscled the young Carolina Hurricanes, was derailed by careless penalties, sloppy defensive-zone play and the oh-so familiar three-goal period, which could have been copyrighted by the Wild last season.

On the bright side, well, it’s just one game.

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Wild fall 4-3

Helsinki, Finland (Sports Network) – Brandon Sutter scored twice and Jussi Jokinen added a goal and an assist, as the Carolina Hurricanes kicked off the 2010-11 NHL season with a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Carolina and Minnesota, which both missed out on the playoffs last season, will also play on Friday in Helsinki as part of the 2010 NHL Premiere series. The league is staging games in three European cities at the start of the season. San Jose and Columbus will play games on Friday and Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden, while Phoenix and Boston will battle Sunday and Monday in Prague, Czech Republic.

Anton Babchuk also tallied for Carolina, which finished last season at 35-37-10, but ended up tied for 11th in the Eastern Conference. Cam Ward turned aside 26-of-29 shots, including 10-of-11 in the third period.

Former Hurricane Matt Cullen had a goal and a helper for the Wild, who also got goals from Guillaume Latendresse and Brent Burns. Minnesota went 38-36-8 in 2009-10, good for the 13th spot in the Western Conference.

Niklas Backstrom made 27 saves in defeat.

Trailing 4-2 after two periods, the Wild came up empty on a power-play chance in the first minute of the third and another at 12:41. However, Jamie McBain went off at 15:11 for a holding call and the Wild capitalized when Burns fired a wrister past Ward from the slot with 3:21 to play to make it a one-goal game.

Despite pulling Backstrom in the last minute in favor of the extra attacker, the Wild were unable to come up with the equalizer.

Minnesota got the first goal of the 2010-11 season 3:33 into the opening period. Mikko Koivu carried the puck behind the net and shoveled a backhand pass to Latendresse, who beat Ward between the pads from the low slot.

Sutter’s power-play goal in the late stages of the first pulled the Hurricanes even. Jokinen took a pass at the left circle and spotted Sutter on the doorstep for a redirection tally with 9.2 seconds left in the stanza.

The second period was more wide open as the teams combined for four goals. Babchuk put home a backhander from in close 5:58 in to give the ’Canes a brief 2-1 edge.

However, Cullen picked up a rebound tally on the power play near the midway point to even things before Carolina responded with a pair.

With the Hurricanes skating with a 5-on-3 advantage, Jokinen took a shot from the right circle that caromed off a Wild defender’s skate in front and went in at 11:16. Sutter then picked up his second of the contest with 1:57 to play in the period. Patrick Dwyer led a line rush down the right side and took a shot that Backstrom stopped, but a hard-charging Sutter got enough of the puck to guide it into the open side for a 4-2 game.

Game Notes

The Wild and Hurricanes split a pair of meetings last year with each club winning on home ice. Minnesota is 4-2-1 with a tie in the last eight contests between the teams…Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky (leg/groin) did not play.

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Game Thread for Wild vs Canes

Check out Hockey Wilderness for in game discussion!

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Wild Open Season Against Hurricanes

(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild will get the 2010-11 NHL season started this afternoon, as the clubs meet today at Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland.

Carolina and the Wild are playing games on back-to-back days in Helsinki to start the season as part of the 2010 NHL Premiere series The league is staging games in three European cities at the start of the season; San Jose and Columbus will play games on Friday and Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden, while Phoenix and Boston will battle Sunday and Monday in Prague, Czech Republic.

Neither the Hurricanes nor the Wild made the playoffs last year and both clubs will be trying to get off to better starts this season in Europe.

Carolina begins a new era of sorts today as longtime captain Rod Brind'Amour announced his retirement at the close of last season. Brind'Amour already had relinquished his captaincy to Eric Staal midway through last season and this is clearly Staal's club now. Veteran winger Ray Whitney is no longer with the club either as he signed with the Phoenix Coyotes in the offseason.

Outside of Staal, the Hurricanes are counting on a few other veterans to deliver on offense, including Jussi Jokinen -- Carolina's surprise offensive sensation from last year. Jokinen -- one of three Finnish players on the 'Canes roster -- notched 30 goals in 81 games for Carolina, destroying his previous personal best of 17 markers in a season.

Carolina's other Finns are defenseman Joni Pitkanen and forward Tuomo Ruutu.

The Hurricanes No. 1 goaltender is still Cam Ward, who claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy when Carolina won the franchise's only Stanley Cup title in 2006.

"I'm comfortable with where we're at, but it's harder to gauge certain things when you're not in a normal environment," Hurricanes head coach Paul Maurice told NHL.com. "As far as the on-ice goes, the focus, the communication, all of the things we said at the beginning of camp we need to be good at they're good at. I believe we're where we should be right now."

The Wild missed the playoffs for the second straight year in 2009-10 and finished 13th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference.

The biggest disappointment for the Wild in 2009-10 was undoubtedly the play of winger Martin Havlat, who didn't do a great deal to justify the six-year, $30 million contract he was given by Minnesota in the summer of '09.

Two season ago, Havlat scored a career-best 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) in 81 games for Chicago, but he managed just 18 goals and 54 points in his first year with the Wild. Havlat is Minnesota's highest-paid player outside of goaltender Niklas Backstrom and he needs to start producing more offense if the Wild have any chance at getting back to the postseason. Havlat is currently battling a groin injury, but is expected to play today.

Like Carolina, the Wild also have three Finnish players on their roster in Backstrom, team captain Mikko Koivu and forward Antti Miettinen.

On the injury front for Carolina, defenseman Joe Corvo (lower body) and forward Jiri Tlusty (knee) are questionable for today, while 'Canes winger Sergei Samsonov (sprained neck) will start the year on injured reserve.

Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky (leg/groin) is doubtful for today, but forward Guillaume Latendresse (hip flexor) is probable.

The Wild and Hurricanes split a pair of meetings last year with each club winning on home ice. Minnesota is 4-2-1 with a tie in the last eight contests between the teams.

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