RALEIGH, North Carolina — Martin Necas had a goal and two assists to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Saturday night in their NHL Stadium Series opener.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Paul Stastny and Teuvo Teravainen also scored for Carolina, which completed a three-game season sweep against its Metropolitan Division opponent.
The game took place at Carter-Finley Stadium, home of the North Carolina State varsity football team and across from Carolina’s ice rink at the PNC Arena. Delayed for two years due to COVID-19 attendance restrictions, the game drew a buzzing crowd of 56,961 fans.
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Temperatures hit the 70s for several days earlier in the week as rain arrived to delay Friday training, but conditions were optimal on Saturday: clear and cool all day, with temperatures dipping into the low 40s degrees when the puck drops and the 30 degrees at the final horn. .
Tom Wilson scored midway through the third period for the Capitals, who suffered their fourth straight loss. The last three have been without captain and top scorer Alex Ovechkin, who was absent following the death of his father.
Carolina finished with a 10th win in 11 games. And this one had the added prominence that came with long-awaited outdoor play – the last chance for the league to stage one of its signature events in a so-called “non-traditional” market in its southern footprint.
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The Hurricanes gave their festive crowd plenty of reason to stay rowdy, starting with the arrival of Kotkaniemi just 2 minutes into the game. Then Carolina scored three goals in 5 1/2 minutes of the second period to make blasting this one, highlighted by Necas hammering a one-timer on the power play from the left side past Darcy Kuemper.
The flurry included Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen who picked up an assist. On a night when he finished with 24 saves, Andersen scored a point by throwing a long pass to Teravainen to spark a 2-on-1 chance, with Teravainen passing to Necas, who drew Kuemper to his side and sent him back to Teravainen. for easy storage and a 4-0 lead.
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The teams followed the tradition of outdoor games by arriving in coordinated and themed outfits, from a cozy afternoon on the links to a throwback to the glory days on the high school gridiron.
The Hurricanes left the PNC Arena wearing old-fashioned plaid golf breeches, matching hats and a black top over a white collared shirt with a red tie. Defenders Brent Burns and Jaccob Slavin were among those who completed the look by sporting a golf club.
The Capitals emerged from a school bus wearing blue jeans, a white t-shirt, custom letter-style jackets, knit caps and soccer balls.
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NODS TO THE PACK
NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said the evening would also honor host NC State. And there were a lot of those keys.
The Wolfpack Marching Band sat behind a goal at ice level. Mascots Mr. and Mrs. Wuf sported Hurricanes gear. And there was the familiar sight of the motorized cart football game with a large white NC State football helmet on a wolf’s head parked near the Capitals Tunnel.
Former Wolfpack basketball greats David Thompson and Derek Whittenburg — who led NC State to the NCAA championships in 1974 and 1983, respectively — featured the Hurricanes as they emerged from the tunnel.
And finally, there was Ripken the Bat Dog — NC State’s official football tee catcher and bat catcher for neighboring minor league Durham Bulls baseball team — performing a ceremonial face-off between Carolina captain Jordan Staal and Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom.
Capitals: host Detroit on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: Host St. Louis Tuesday evening.
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