Ex-Cane puts the squeeze on Carolina as Penguins win, 5-2

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 8, 2013 

— Jussi Jokinen once helped the Carolina Hurricanes win some memorable games.

Traded by the Canes to the Pittsburgh Penguins late last season, he now is becoming a Canes killer.

Jokinen notched a hat trick Tuesday as the Penguins surged in the third period for a 5-2 victory against the Canes at Consol Energy Center. In his last two games against Carolina, the Finnish forward has five goals.

“I won’t even try to deny it – it’s extra motivation when you play against your former team,” Jokinen said. “As I said last year, I didn’t think everything was fair with what happened at the end of last year, but that’s hockey. It’s not always fair.

“I still have a lot of respect for the organization, and I had a really good four and a half years there. But obviously I’m really happy I’m here now and playing with some good players … in a first-class organization.”

Jokinen hit the post with his first attempt, about 15 seconds into the game. But he later scored a first-period power-play goal for a 1-0 lead. He scored what proved to be the winner with a third-period goal that pushed the Pens ahead 3-2, and later added another power-play score.

Defenseman Paul Martin and forward Tanner Glass also had goals as the Pens pushed their record to 3-0-0, their best start since the 1994-1995 season. It also was their six straight win against the Canes (1-1-1), now a Metropolitan Division opponent, at Consol Energy Center.

The Canes weren’t very assertive in the first period and fell behind 2-0 in the second. But the Canes’ Eric Staal scored his first of the season in the second period, deflecting a Justin Faulk shot after falling to the ice, and Nathan Gerbe tied it 2-2 early in the third.

“We got some momentum in the second period, then scored a big goal to tie it up,” Staal said. “From there you want to keep the momentum. (But) their good players made some good plays, and they can score on you like that.”

Staal said he could sense Jokinen, who was traded for a conditional 2013 draft pick on April 3, was playing with a added energy and determination against a team he helped make a strong run in the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I’m sure that motivation is there to do well, and he definitely did that tonight,” Staal said. “He’s an opportunistic player. In the right spots he can score and he can produce.”

Jokinen’s first goal came on a Sidney Crosby pass, knocking a backhander past Ward. He ripped a shot from the left circle, off a Malkin pass, for the go-ahead goal less than two minutes after Gerbe tied it in the third.

Jokinen completed his second career hat trick with about seven minutes left in regulation after a roughing penalty on defenseman Jay Harrison, who earlier in the game traded some big blows with Glass.

Cam Ward, making his second start of the season, had some spectacular saves for the Canes, who were playing their season’s first road game. The Pens, favored to win the newly formed Metro Division, had 36 shots and many came off high-quality looks.

“Cam kept us in there,” Staal said. “I think everybody needed to be a little bit stronger than we were, a little more aggressive. It was too much space for their skilled players.”

Crosby had a pair of assists for the Pens, as did defenseman Olli Maatta, who earned his first two NHL points. Defenseman Andrej Sekera had two assists, his first two points with the Hurricanes.

But this night belonged to Jokinen, named the game’s first star. According to capgeek.com, a respected website that tracks NHL salaries, Carolina is paying $900,000 of Jokinen’s $3 million salary, so he’s still on the payroll.

Jokinen said he wasn’t so much mad or disappointed when he was traded, but more relieved. He scored twice against Carolina in the regular-season finale at Consol Energy Center last year as the Pens won 8-3.

“I probably kind of needed a fresh start,” Jokinen said. “But I got here and they stuck me in a position where I can be successful. I have been in an offensive role this season.

“I’m playing with confidence. It’s fun.”

See the box score from this game.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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