|CGY||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|MIN||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||6|
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The crowd was roaring, the Minnesota Wild were ready, and Miikka Kiprusoff and the Calgary Flames came out flat.
Marc Chouinard scored three goals and Todd White added a goal and two assists, leading the Wild past the Flames 6-3 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard had three assists, and Brent Burns and Kyle Wanvig each contributed a power-play goal for Minnesota, which surprised defending Western Conference champion Calgary and its stellar goalie Kiprusoff with an outburst of offense.
The Wild, who held a 16-3 shot advantage in the first period, led 3-0 until late in the second.
``You spot a team that much momentum, point-blank chances, stuff like that, it's not a good game,'' said Jarome Iginla, whose goal pulled the Flames within 4-3 midway through the third period. ``We were standing still the whole game. It's not good enough.''
Dwayne Roloson, an All-Star in 2004, had 28 saves for the Wild, a small but speedy team that's never been much of a scoring threat but figures to take advantage of the league's new rules designed to open up the game and make it more fan-friendly.
``It's going to be up in the air pretty much every night,'' said Chouinard, a five-year veteran who notched his first NHL hat trick after totaling a career-high 11 goals in 2003-04.
Minnesota is hurting a bit up front, where top skater Marian Gaborik (groin) is on injured reserve and rookie center Mikko Koivu (knee) is expected to miss a month. Calgary has one of the league's biggest and best blue-line units, especially after adding free agent Roman Hamrlik this summer.
But for all but the middle of the final period, this was a mismatch the other way.
``You know they're going to come out of the gate hard,'' said Flames coach Darryl Sutter, who criticized the performance of his first line - Steve Reinprecht, Chris Simon and Chuck Kobasew - and defensive pair - Andrew Ference and Steve Montador.
Kiprusoff, who led the league with a 1.70 goals-allowed average in 2003-04 - his first with the Flames, uncharacteristically gave up several long rebounds. He found himself way out of position on the Wild's first goal, just 103 seconds into the game when Chouinard nearly fell over poking the puck past Ference.
``They were shooting a lot, so there were a lot of rebounds,'' Kiprusoff said. ``But I've got to do a better job.''
Reinprecht picked up an interference penalty late in the first period, giving Minnesota its first power play. Burns scored from the point with 2 seconds left before the buzzer, making it 2-0.
The importance of special teams units should be greater this season with an expected increase in obstruction penalties under the league's vow to crack down on them, and the Wild have to be happy with theirs so far - going 2-for-3 on the power play and killing seven of the Flames' eight chances.
Early in the second, after Simon was called for hooking, Wanvig gave Minnesota a three-goal lead when he took Bouchard's pass from the corner and scored from the top of the crease.
``I thought we were in good shape - and demonstrated we were in good shape,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. ``We skated well.''
Daymond Langkow scored a power-play goal for the Flames, who then stormed back late in the third period with goals by Stephane Yelle and Iginla in a span of less than 90 seconds to cut the lead to 4-3.
But White, acquired in a trade with Ottawa on draft day, gave his new team some space with his goal with a little more than 3 minutes remaining - prompting a ``sieve, sieve, sieve!'' chant from an arena-record overflow record crowd of 19,398. Chouinard chipped in an empty-netter with 3.9 seconds left.
``We have a very loud crowd, and I know it can be intimidating,'' Chouinard said.
Notes: Minnesota's other goalie, Manny Fernandez, didn't suit up because of muscle spasms in his neck and upper back. Lemaire said he should be ready for Saturday's game at Phoenix. ... Langkow, another addition for Calgary, was acquired in an August 2004 trade with Phoenix. ... Alex Henry is the captain this month for the Wild, who have continued their unique tradition of rotating the players who wear the ``C'' on the jersey.
|Marc Chouinard (1) ASST: Alexandre Daigle (1), Alex Henry (1)|
1 - 0 MIN
|PPG - Brent Burns (1) ASST: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (1), Todd White (1)|
2 - 0 MIN
|PPG - Kyle Wanvig (1) ASST: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (2), Todd White (2)|
3 - 0 MIN
|PPG - Daymond Langkow (1) ASST: Tony Amonte (1), Roman Hamrlik (1)|
3 - 1 MIN
|Marc Chouinard (2) ASST: Matt Foy (1), Pascal Dupuis (1)|
4 - 1 MIN
|Stephane Yelle (1) ASST: NONE|
4 - 2 MIN
|Jarome Iginla (1) ASST: Andrew Ference (1), Tony Amonte (2)|
4 - 3 MIN
|Todd White (1) ASST: Brian Rolston (1), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (3)|
5 - 3 MIN
|EN - Marc Chouinard (3) ASST: Pascal Dupuis (2)|
6 - 3 MIN
|Pascal Dupuis Hi-sticking against Andrew Ference|
|Stephane Veilleux Interference on goalkeeper against Miikka Kiprusoff|
|Steve Reinprecht Interference against Wes Walz|
|Andrei Zyuzin Interference against Darren McCarty|
|Chris Simon Hooking|
|Shean Donovan Holding against Pierre-Marc Bouchard|
|Willie Mitchell Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Nick Schultz Interference on goalkeeper against Miikka Kiprusoff|
|Chris Simon Roughing against Alex Henry|
|Alex Henry Roughing against Chris Simon|
|Brent Burns Holding against Andrew Ference|
|Matt Foy Hooking against Rhett Warrener|
|Scott Ferguson Holding against Shean Donovan|