ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Marc Chouinard scored three goals and Todd White added a goal and two assists, leading the Minnesota Wild past the Calgary Flames 6-3 on Wednesday night in their season opener.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard had three assists, and Brent Burns and Kyle Wanvig each contributed a power-play goal for Minnesota, which gave Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff a not-so-warm welcome.

Dwayne Roloson, an All-Star in 2004, had 28 saves for the Wild, who surprised the defending Western Conference champion Flames with an outburst of offense. They held a 16-3 shot advantage in the first period.

Minnesota is hurting a bit up front, where top skater Marian Gaborik (groin) is on injured reserve and rookie center Mikko Koivu (knee) is expected to miss a month. Calgary has one of the league’s biggest and best blue-line units, especially after adding free agent Roman Hamrlik this summer.

But for the first 45 minutes, this was a mismatch the other way.

Kiprusoff, who led the league with a 1.70 goals-allowed average in 2003-04 – his first with the Flames, uncharacteristically gave up several long rebounds. He found himself way out of position on the Wild’s first goal, just 103 seconds into the game.

Collecting a rebound of Alexandre Daigle’s backhanded shot from the corner, Chouinard nearly fell over as he poked the puck past defenseman Andrew Ference.

Calgary’s Steve Reinprecht picked up an interference penalty late in the first period, giving Minnesota its first power play. Burns scored from the point with 2 seconds left before the buzzer, making it 2-0.

The importance of special teams units should be greater this season with an expected increase in obstruction penalties under the league’s vow to crack down on them, and the Wild have to be happy with their power play so far.

Early in the second, after Chris Simon was called for hooking, Wanvig gave Minnesota a three-goal lead when he took Bouchard’s pass from the corner and scored from the top of the crease.

Daymond Langkow scored a power-play goal for the Flames, who then stormed back late in the third period with goals by Stephane Yelle and Jarome Iginla in a span of less than 90 seconds to cut the Wild’s lead to 4-3.

But White, acquired in a trade with Ottawa on draft day, gave his new team some space with his goal with a little more than 3 minutes remaining – prompting a “sieve, sieve, sieve!” chant from the seats.

Chouinard chipped in an empty-netter with 3.9 seconds left.

An arena-record overflow crowd of 19,398 was on hand. To show their appreciation, each Wild player wore jersey No. 1 while they skated around in pregame warmups.

Notes: Minnesota’s other goalie, Manny Fernandez, didn’t suit up because of muscle spasms in his neck and upper back. … Langkow, another addition for Calgary, was acquired in an August 2004 trade with Phoenix. … Alex Henry is the captain this month for the Wild, who have continued their unique tradition of rotating the players who wear the “C” on the jersey.

AP-ES-10-05-05 2249EDT


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