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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.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.