Vatrano scores 3 goals, Mintyukov gets first NHL goal as Ducks defeat Hurricanes 6-3 in home opener

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Frank Vatrano scored three goals for his fourth career hat trick, Pavel Mintyukov got his first NHL goal and the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3 Sunday for their eighth straight victory in a home opener.

Anaheim is tied with Boston and Toronto for the longest active winning streaks in home openers. The Ducks have also earned points in each of their last 11 Honda Center debuts since 2013 (10-0-1).

“It was awesome. Obviously it's great to get a hat trick but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the game,” said Vatrano, who had a career-high 41 points last season. “From top to bottom tonight, goaltending, defense, a lot of milestones tonight as well.”

Cam Fowler had a goal and an assist, and Sam Carrick also scored as Anaheim took a 3-0 lead less than 13 minutes into the game. The Ducks were clinging to a one-goal lead late in the third before putting it away with a pair of empty-net goals, including Vatrano's at 18:41.

Ryan Strome and Mason McTavish each had two assists, and Lukas Dostal made 32 saves for Anaheim.

It was the first victory for Anaheim coach Greg Cronin, hired during the offseason after five seasons behind the bench for the Colorado Avalanche's AHL affiliate.

Cronin said he was concerned how the Ducks might come out after a 4-1 loss in their season opener at Vegas on Saturday night, but he was impressed with the energy they had, especially early in the game.

“I thought the crowd played a big role in getting us on our toes early. We could have scored a few more goals in the second period but we got a little bit behind the eight ball with penalties,” he said. “They threw everything at us in the third period but we did a good job of weathering the storm.”

Teuvo Teravainen had two goals — giving him four in Carolina's first three games — and Martin Necas also scored. Antti Raanta stopped 19 shots.

“We just dug ourselves too much of a hole," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. "I credit the guys for figuring out a way to get back into it.”

Vatrano gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead when his wrist shot from the right faceoff circle went between Raanta’s legs and into the net. The goal was also Anaheim’s second in a span of 99 seconds after Carrick got the Ducks on the scoreboard 6:52 into the game.

Mintyukov, the 10th overall pick in the 2022 draft, made it 3-0 with 7:54 left in the first. The Russian defenseman got a backhand pass from Jackson LaCombe and put a wrist shot by Raanta, who was out of position.

At 19 years, 324 days, Mintyukov is the fifth youngest defenseman in the franchise’s 30-year history to score his first goal. It was also LaCombe’s first NHL point, making it the fifth time in NHL history that two defensemen recorded their first career goal and first assist on the same play. The last time it happened was in 2019 by Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren of the New York Rangers.

“LaCombe gave me an empty-net pass, so I had to tap it in,” Mintyukov said.

Teravainen got the Hurricanes to 3-1 early in the second period when he went top shelf after batting the puck to the ice when it took a strange bounce off the boards.

Vatrano then made it 4-1 at 16:44 of the second period with a wrist shot after getting the pass from Strome behind the net.

Teravainen had a slap shot from just inside the blue line on the power play at 3:01 of the third period to make it 4-2.

Necas scored on the power play to pull Carolina within one with 4:31 remaining.

“We always play good defense but gave up too many odd-man rushes. We still came back but we have to start better than that,” Necas said.

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: At San Jose on Tuesday night.

Anaheim: Host Dallas on Thursday night.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl