ST. PAUL, Minn. – Eric Belanger scored twice, and the Wild welcomed former goalie Manny Fernandez back to Minnesota with a three-goal second period in a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
Marc-Andre Bergeron and Antti Miettinen also scored for the Wild, who have won all five of their season openers played at home. Despite being outshot by Boston 37-26, they controlled the flow of the game when it counted and took the lead for good early in the second period.
Marc Savard had two goals and Phil Kessel also scored for the Bruins, who beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in their opener two nights earlier, but both of Savard’s came in the final 8 1/2 minutes.
Fernandez lapsed on the first two, letting Belanger’s below-the-circle poke slip between his pads on a power play to tie the game at 1 with less than 90 seconds left in the first period. After the first intermission, Bergeron sent a straight-on slap shot at Fernandez and watched that one sneak through his legs.
This was the first time Fernandez faced the Wild, who acquired him for their inaugural season in 2000 and experienced plenty of ups and downs until trading him to Boston in 2007. Fernandez was limited to four games last season after knee surgery.
Minnesota let stalwart Brian Rolston leave via free agency and also cut ties with Pavol Demitra and Mark Parrish, raising the question about where the scoring will come from. But all four players who made their Wild debuts – Bergeron, rookie Colton Gillies, Miettinen and Owen Nolan – had points in this one.
All-star Marian Gaborik, whose future is uncertain as he plays the final year of his contract, had a quiet game. But Belanger didn’t.
Minnesota needs more productivity from its centremen behind captain Mikko Koivu, and this was a promising start. Belanger started so fast in his first season with the Wild, hard-to-please coach Jacques Lemaire suggested he could reach 80 points. But he trailed off and managed only one goal in his final 30 games.
Notes: The Bruins scratched RW Chuck Kobasew, who broke his ankle in the opener. … Minnesota scratched D Marek Zidlicky (ankle), who with Bergeron was acquired to boost the offensive capability of the blue line. … Kessel and rookie teammate Blake Wheeler both played for the University of Minnesota.