RALEIGH, NC — Martin Necas had a goal and two assists to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 in their first outdoor game of the NHL Stadium Series on Saturday night.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Paul Stastny and Teuvo Teravainen also scored for Carolina, who defeated their Metropolitan Division opponent after three games.
The game took place at Carter-Finley Stadium, home of the North Carolina state college football team and across the street from Carolina’s home stadium at PNC Arena. The game was postponed two years due to COVID-19 attendance restrictions and attracted a sell-out crowd of 56,961 fans.
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Temperatures hit the 70s for several days early in the week, while rain arrived to delay practice on Friday, but conditions were optimal on Saturday: clear and cool all day, with temperatures dipping into the lows at the puck drop 40s and in the high 30s on the last horn.
Tom Wilson struck midway through the third period for the Capitals, who suffered their fourth straight loss. The last three have been without captain and leading scorer Alex Ovechkin, who is absent following the death of his father.
Carolina finished with a 10th win in 11 games. And this one had the added meaning that came with the long-awaited outdoor game — the latest chance for the league to hold one of its marquee events in a so-called “non-traditional” market in its southern footprint.
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The Hurricanes gave their cheering crowd plenty of reasons to stay scrappy, starting with Kotkaniemi’s finish just under 2 minutes into the game. Then Carolina scored three goals in 5 1/2 minutes of the second half to blast that goal, highlighted by Necas hammering a one-timer on the powerplay past Darcy Kuemper from the left.
Also among the excitement was Hurricane goaltender Frederik Andersen, who scored an assist. On a night he finished with 24 saves, Andersen earned a point when he lofted a long pass to Teravainen to spark a 2-on-1 chance, with Teravainen passing to Necas who had Kuemper on his side pulled and sent him back to Teravainen for easy storage and a 4-0 lead.
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The teams followed outdoor game tradition by arriving in coordinated and themed attire, from a leisurely afternoon on the links to a recap of glory days on the high school gridiron.
The Hurricanes exited PNC Arena in vintage plaid golf pants, matching hats and a black top over a collared white shirt and red tie. Defensemen Brent Burns and Jaccob Slavin were among those who completed the look with a golf club.
The Capitals exited a school bus in blue jeans, a white T-shirt, tailored lettermen-style jackets, knit hats and large soccer balls.
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nods to the pack
NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer had said the night would also honor the host state, NC. And there were many such touches.
The Wolfpack marching band sat behind a gate at Ice Level. Mascots Mr. and Ms. Wuf wore Hurricanes gear. And there was the familiar football game day sight 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 emerged from the tunnel.
And finally, there was Ripken the Bat Dog — official tee retriever for NC State football and bat retriever for the nearby Durham Bulls minor league baseball team — who performed a ceremonial puck toss between Carolina’s captain Jordan Staal and Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom.
Capitals: host Detroit on Tuesday night.
Hurricanes: host St. Louis on Tuesday night.
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