RALEIGH, NC — Martin Necas had a goal and two assists to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 Saturday in their opener outdoors in the NHL Stadium Series.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Paul Stastny and Teuvo Teravainen also scored for Carolina, which completed a three-game season sweep against its Metropolitan Division foe.
The game was held at Carter-Finley Stadium, home of the North Carolina State college football team and across the street from Carolina’s home ice at PNC Arena. Delayed two years due to COVID-19 attendance restrictions, the game drew a sellout crowd of 56,961 fans.
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Temperatures reached the 70s for several days earlier in the week while rain came to delay Friday practices, but conditions were prime on Saturday: clear and cold all day with temperatures dipping to 40 degrees at drop the puck and at 30 degrees when the final horn sounds. .
Tom Wilson scored midway through the third period for the Capitals, who suffered their fourth straight loss. The last three have come without captain and top scorer Alex Ovechkin, who is out following the death of his father.
Carolina finished with a tenth win in 11 games. And this had the added meaning that came with the long-awaited outdoor game: the last chance for the league to hold one of its main events in a so-called “non-traditional” market within its footprint in the South.
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The Hurricanes gave their festive crowd plenty of reasons to get excited, starting with Kotkaniemi’s finish in just 2 minutes of play. Carolina then scored three goals in a span of 5 1/2 minutes of the second period to open this one, highlighted by Necas hammering a stopwatch on the power play from the left side past Darcy Kuemper.
The flurry included Hurricane goaltender Frederik Andersen counting an assist. On a night in which he finished with 24 saves, Andersen earned a point when he threw a long pass to Teravainen to ignite a 2-on-1 opportunity, with Teravainen passing to Necas, who drew Kuemper to his side and sent him back to Teravainen. for the easy tackle and a 4-0 lead.
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Teams continued the tradition of outdoor games by arriving in coordinated and themed outfits, from a comfortable afternoon on the fields to a throwback to the glory days on the high school field.
The Hurricanes emerged from PNC Arena wearing vintage plaid golf breeches, matching hats, and a black top over a white collared shirt and red tie. Defenders Brent Burns and Jaccob Slavin were among those who completed the look with a golf club.
The Capitals emerged from a school bus sporting blue jeans, a white T-shirt, custom letterman jackets, knit caps and footballs.
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winks to the herd
NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer had said the night would also honor host NC State. And there were a lot of those touches.
The Wolfpack marching band sat behind a goal post at level ice. The mascots, Mr. and Mrs. Wuf, wore Hurricanes gear. And there was the familiar sight from football game day of the motorized car with a big white NC State football helmet on a wolf’s head parked near the Capitals tunnel.
Former Wolfpack basketball greats David Thompson and Dereck Whittenburg, who led NC State to NCAA championships in 1974 and 1983, respectively, introduced the Hurricanes as they came out of the tunnel.
And finally, there was Ripken the Bat Dog, the official retriever of NC State football and the bat retriever of the nearby Durham Bulls minor league baseball team, who performed a ceremonial puck drop between Carolina captain Jordan Staal , and Nicklas Backstrom of Washington.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Capitals: Host Detroit on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: Receive St. Louis on Tuesday night.
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