Starting in Finland where Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane proved why he belongs on the cover of NHL10 with a goal and an assist on the day. Both the Blackhawks and Florida Panthers traded goals from the second period on. Finland native Ville Koistinen who came over to the Panthers from the Nashville Predators to play on their blue line added a goal in the third, more on him in a bit. After Patrick Sharp put the puck by Tomas Vokun who had 52 stops in the game, to give the Blackhawks the 3-2 edge the Panthers had an answer late from David Booth sending it to OT. From there it was the homeland hero Koistinen netting the winner in the shootout past Cristobal Huet for a 2-1 shootout win and a 4-3 victory overall.
Next to Sweden and a clash between Central Division rivals the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. After falling behind early, the defending Western Conference champs roared back with three of their own from Jonathan Ericsson (assisted on by former Adirondack Red Wing Kris Draper), a shorty by Kirk Maltby, followed by a PPG from Ville Leino in the third taking a 3-1 lead on former Albany River Rats goalie Chris Mason. Mason had 31 saves on the night. But then it was welcome back to the National Hockey League Paul Kariya! Kariya who missed the last penalty shot for Canada against Sweden in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics had a much sweeter return this time around. Kariya scored two of the Blues next three goals (the first of which came on the power play) in a five minute span including the eventual game winner. Blues Jay McClement also had a big night scoring St. Louis' first goal an assisting on the tying tally and the winner. Former Adirondack Red Wing goalie Chris Osgood had 19 saves in the 4-3 loss.
Back state side a couple of clubs whose AHL affiliates are only a mere 40 or so miles away in Albany and Glens Falls, the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers in Raleigh. For the Flyers it was the usual suspects with Jeff Carter who scored 46 a year ago and Mike Richards who ended up with 30 of his own pushed Philly past the Canes with two quick power play goals within the first minute of the second period. Newly re-signed Cam Ward was solid, but welcome back to the NHL Ray Emery was better. Emery the former Ottawa Senators netminder was on his game turning away all 28 shots he faced for the first shutout of the young season. Flyers blank the Hurricanes 2-0. Former Adirondack Red Wings defenseman Aaron Ward played over 21 minutes in his second stint back with the Canes, registering one shot on net. Flyers backup keeper Brian "don't call me Bobby" Boucher was placed on the IR.
Finally to the new title town (minus the Pirates of course) the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the New York Rangers. Did anyone catch Mike Keenan on MSG during the intermissions? Was that Rangers Cup really 15 years ago? I digress as the man playing the modern day Jaromir Jagr to Sidney Crosby's Mario Lemieux got the Pens going. Evgeni Malkin who had 35 of these last year, re-directed a shot from Sergei Gonchar on the power play to make the Igloo roar. Then the heavyweights decided to lock horns as newly acquired Donald Brashear went up against former New York Islander Eric Godard. Brashear got in a solid left to the jaw of Godard but Godard also gave Brashear a cut to the head, so pretty even scrap to say the least. After that it was the Blueshirts captain Chris Drury who knotted things up at 1-1. Then in the second Pens captain Sidney Crosby who scored 33 last year, was left in front to give Pittsburgh the edge. Shortly after it was Tyler Kennedy netting the eventual winner. New York did get an encouraging sign in the third as Marian Gaborik picked up the puck on a fanned shot and put in his first of the year, but the Rangers fell to the Penguins 3-2. The Staal brothers Marc and Jordan each picked up an assist and former Albany River Rats Aaron Voros and Michael Rupp suited up for the Rangers and Penguins respectively.
Nightly Notables: The defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins are the only team thus far to out shoot their opponent and win on the young season.