RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Defensemen Brady Skjei and Jaccob Slavin scored third-period goals that helped the Carolina Hurricanes push past the Ottawa Senators 5-3 in Wednesday night's season opener for both teams.
Skjei scored shortly after a turnover by Ottawa in its own end, one-timing a pass from Jesper Fast to beat Joonas Korpisalo for the go-ahead score at the 7:51 mark of the third. Slavin followed minutes later with a short-handed goal, this one set up by Jesperi Kotkaniemi taking a chance to push into Ottawa's end before feeding Slavin.
Slavin slipped the puck over Korpisalo's right shoulder on the short side at the 11:05 mark to push the lead to 5-3.
That quick burst was the decisive stretch in a third period that turned suddenly wild, first with Carolina scoring 20 seconds into the period - also off an Ottawa turnover in its own end. Then the Senators scored twice in a 35-second span to tie it before Carolina retook control to successfully open a season as one of the Stanley Cup favorites.
“I've seen that (response) really for five years," coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "If something bad happens, we seem to be able to shake it off. There's no change in our demeanor on the bench or anything. We're not happy about it, but we know it's always about that next shift.”
Carolina has been to the playoffs five straight years with three straight division titles, then spent the offseason making targeted additions to a long-successful core.
And as Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said earlier Wednesday: “It’s not about making the playoffs anymore. It’s about trying to get to the finish line.”
Michael Bunting scored in his first game with Carolina, while Teuvo Teravainen and Jordan Staal also scored goals.
Ottawa is trying to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since losing the 2017 Eastern Conference Final in a seven-game series.
Mathieu Joseph scored a first-period goal for the Senators, while Parker Kelly and Tim Stutzle teamed up for the two-goal burst that tied the game at 3-all less than 6 minutes into the final period. Kelly's score finished a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance.
Joseph's goal came in the opening minutes with Ottawa getting multiple early scoring chances, but Carolina took control by scoring twice in the second and doubling up Ottawa in shots (18-9).
“I just think they stayed with the game plan right through it,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “They just put pucks behind us and made it hard for us to change. We want to do the same thing. You know how it is in this league in the second period: you've got to get it on and off the ice. And we just didn't manage the puck.”
Frederik Andersen finished with 27 saves in net for Carolina. Korpisalo - who signed a five-year, $20 million deal as a free agent in July - finished with 37 saves for Ottawa.
Carolina signed Bunting in July and he had three goals in three preseason games. Then he scored the Hurricanes' first regular-season goal.
With Carolina on the power play, Bunting settled down on the goal line for a pass from Sebastian Aho, then turned directly to the top of the crease for a 1-on-1 chance on Korpisalo. Bunting waited out Korpisalo and pushed the puck past the goaltender’s outstretched right skate at the 2:55 mark of the second.
"I just kind of see the D were playing a little high and I had a lot of time, so I knew I could take it across and it worked out," Bunting said.
Joseph and Kelly also tallied assists for two-point nights with the Senators. ... Ottawa was 0 for 4 on the power play, while Carolina was 1 for 6. ... Korpisalo stopped Fast on a penalty shot at the 6:16 mark of the first period. That was the first penalty shot ever in a season opener for the Hurricanes franchise. ... Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo assisted on Bunting's goal for his 200th career NHL point.
Senators: Ottawa returns home Saturday to face the Philadelphia Flyers.
Hurricanes: Carolina begins a six-game road swing by visiting the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, with its next home game coming Oct. 26.
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