RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — 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.
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. But 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. Frederik Andersen finished with 27 saves in net.
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.
Korpisalo — who signed a five-year, $20 million deal as a free agent in July — finished with 37 saves.
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.