Thomas Vanek scored two power-play goals, leading the Buffalo Sabres past the Anaheim Ducks , 4-1, in their NHL opener yesterday in Helsinki.
Vanek, the top goal-scorer for Buffalo the last five seasons, set the tone with his first goal at 4:02 in the first period. Ville Leino of Finland, playing in his former home stadium, then made it 2-0 on his debut for the Sabres.
Nate Guenin replied for Anaheim in the second period, but Vanek helped restore the Sabres’ two-goal lead by setting up Jason Pominville.
Vanek then scored his second of the game later in the period. Pominville also had two assists, as did Luke Adam.
“The puck was bouncing for us a bit tonight and we played a good first period with the two-goal lead,’’ Vanek said. “We tried to get pucks to the net and it paid off early on.’’
Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff was happy with the way Leino played on a line with Brad Boyes and Tyler Ennis.
“Leino did a heck of a play, taking the puck from his own skates before scoring,’’ Ruff said.
Doing so in his first game for a new club was nothing new for Leino, who dominated the ice for Finnish team Jokerit in the same arena before leaving for the NHL.
“I have done it for every team where I’ve played, and was lucky to do it again,’’ Leino said. “It was cool to do it here in Finland.’’
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle felt his team had allowed Buffalo an easy game.
“We did not do a very good job of transferring the puck from our defense to the forwards, and had to spend the first half of the game too much in our own end,’’ he said.
“We played more as individuals in parts of the game versus a team.’’
Kings 3, Rangers 2 - Jack Johnson scored on a power play with a minute left in overtime to lift Los Angeles over New York in Stockholm.
Johnson tapped in a pass from Mike Richards, who had scored with five minutes to go in regulation to make it 2-2. Richards came to Los Angeles during the offseason from Philadelphia.
The sold-out stadium threw its full support behind the Rangers, whose goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, is considered a legend in the hockey-loving country.
Lightning 5, Hurricanes 1 - Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist to lead Tampa Bay past host Carolina.
Vincent Lecavalier scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period. Steve Downie, Adam Hall, and Ryan Malone scored during a 4:36 span in the third.
Steven Stamkos had two assists to help the Lightning win their opener for the second straight year.
Stars 2, Blackhawks 1 - Kari Lehtonen stopped 37 shots, Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn scored second-period goals, and host Dallas held on to beat Chicago.
Lehtonen was at his best in the second period, making a series of sliding saves while Chicago built a 22-12 shots advantage, a total pumped up by three power plays.
Lehtonen came up with a key stop with about five minutes left on Jamal Mayers’s shorthanded attempt from the left circle, and denied Patrick Sharp on a solo rush with four minutes remaining.
Predators 3, Blue Jackets 2 - Ryan Suter had a goal and an assist and Craig Smith scored his first NHL goal to lead Nashville to victory in Columbus, Ohio.
Another rookie, Matt Halischuk, also scored for the Predators, who are 11-5-2 on Columbus’s home ice since 2006-07 and 18-11-3 overall. Pekka Rinne had 29 saves.
Red Wings 5, Senators 3 - Cory Emmerton had a goal and an assist to help host Detroit beat Ottawa.
Todd Bertuzzi, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jiri Hudler, and Ian White also scored for Detroit and Drew Miller had two assists.