Montreal at Carolina

Koivu nets winner for Canadiens 65 seconds into overtime wire reports

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Saku Koivu helped the NHL's top power-play unit of last season pick up where it left off.

Koivu's second power-play goal of the game came 1:05 into overtime, and the Montreal Canadiens scored three times with the man advantage during their season-opening 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.

"Today it worked," Koivu said of the power-play unit. "We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves ... (but) the power play is a big part. Just don't expect us to score three power-play goals every game. It is a good start. If you can chip in once in a while with the power plays, it's going to make your job a little bit easier."

Mark Streit also scored and Andrei Markov had two assists for Montreal, which a season ago scored on a league-best 22.8 percent of its chances with the man advantage.

The opening-game winner came moments after Niclas Wallin was called for cross-checking. The Canadiens worked the puck back to Koivu, who snapped it past Cam Ward's glove side.

"You go down 4-on-3 for two minutes in overtime, it certainly reduces the chance of coming back," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.

Erik Cole and Bret Hedican scored for Carolina, which began its 10th season in North Carolina by losing its fifth straight opener.

Koivu gave the Canadiens a short-lived 2-1 lead midway through the third period. Markov fed the puck from the blue line to a wide-open Koivu in the slot, and he wristed the puck high past Ward on the glove side.

"Getting the first goal early in the season, it takes it away from your mind," Koivu said. "Obviously, it's easier to go from there."

The Hurricanes forced overtime three minutes later when Justin Williams left the puck for Hedican near the blue line, and he uncorked a slap shot that zipped past goalie Cristobal Huet.

"It seemed like in the third period we fell back on our heels a little bit until they scored that goal," Ward said. "After they scored that, we started to get our legs again. They came out with a purpose in the third period, and it looked like they were a little more desperate at the beginning of the period."

Huet finished with 29 saves for Montreal. Ward, who lost 20 pounds this offseason and during a sharp preseason allowed two goals in 2½ games, finished with 37 saves for the Hurricanes.

Both teams were eager to get the season started after coming off disappointing years in which they failed to make the playoffs. Montreal finished two points shy of a postseason berth while the Hurricanes were four points short.

It was a bit of revenge for the Canadiens, whose most recent playoff appearance ended at Carolina's hands during the first round of its march to the Stanley Cup in 2006.

A sign for optimism: The Canadiens won their first game for the 48th time since joining the NHL in 1917, and have gone on to reach the playoffs after 43 of their previous 47 season-opening victories.

"Obviously, you build confidence with every win and when you play a tough team like them, it is a good thing," Koivu said.

In Carolina's first chance to make up for its post-Cup flop of a year ago, it wasted little time putting its maligned power play to work.

A unit that ranked 25th in the league last season converted on its first man-advantage opportunity just 3½ minutes into the season. Eric Staal uncorked a one-timer from behind the right circle and Cole, positioned on the doorstep, redirected the blast past Huet for his 13th career goal against the Canadiens, his best total against any team.

Montreal tied it up later in the period with Streit one-timing a pass from Markov through traffic and past Ward.


  • Veteran D Roman Hamrlik's first game with Montreal was the 1,000th of his career. He signed as a free agent after spending two seasons in Calgary and is just the fourth Czech-born player to reach that milestone.
  • Carolina entered having won 11 of its last 14 meetings with the Canadiens.
  • LW Cory Stillman (torso) was scratched for Carolina, missing the opener with an injury for the second straight year.
  • Montreal has won four of its last seven openers.
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Saku Koivu's second power-play goal makes the difference 65 seconds in the overtime session. (AP)
Saku Koivu's second power-play goal makes the difference 65 seconds in the overtime session. (AP)
Montreal  (1-0-0) «10113
Carolina (0-0-1)10102
Three Stars
S. Koivu

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
C. Ward

Saves: 37
Save Pct.: .925
B. Hedican

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0

Related Video

Scoring Summary
03:37Power Play - Erik Cole (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Eric Staal, Scott Walker
13:01Power Play - Mark Streit (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Alexei Kovalev, Andrei Markov
09:31Power Play - Saku Koivu (1), Snap Shot. Assist: Andrei Markov
12:48Bret Hedican (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Justin Williams, Rod Brind'Amour
01:05Power Play - Saku Koivu (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Christopher Higgins, Michael Ryder
Penalty Summary
01:51Kovalev, 2 min, Hooking
09:13Ryder, 2 min, Holding
12:02Ladd, 2 min, Holding the stick
15:12Komisarek, 2 min, Hooking
16:07Streit, 2 min, Holding
17:16Brind'Amour, 2 min, Interference with goal tender.
17:55Brisebois, 2 min, Delay of Game
03:27Smolinski, 2 min, Interference
04:21Higgins, 2 min, Delaying Game
10:44Bayda, 4 min, High sticking
19:50Hedican, 2 min, Hooking
06:01Ladd, 2 min, Too Many Men on the Ice(bench)
09:13Wallin, 2 min, Tripping
17:59Begin, 2 min, Roughing
17:59Brind'Amour, 2 min, Roughing
46.0Wallin, 2 min, Cross Check
Cristobal Huet 61:05292
Cam Ward 61:01373
Game Information
Attendance - 18680
Referees - Gord Dwyer, Kerry Fraser
Linesmen - Jonny Murray, Mark Pare
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