Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 1/20/13

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Mikael Granlund, drafted eighth overall by the Minnesota Wild, poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, Minn. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter weren't the only players making their Minnesota Wild debuts Saturday night. Mikael Granlund, the Finnish sensation who is one of the top prospects in hockey, played his first-ever NHL game and scored his first goal. Granlund, Minnesota's first-round pick in the 2009 draft, is in his first pro season in North America and he had 21 points in 21 games for the Houston Aeros while waiting for the NHL lockout to be resolved. He didn't take long making impact on the NHL level. Granlund tipped home a shot from Jared Spurgeon in the second period for his first goal with the Wild as part of a three-goal period, which set the tone for Saturday's 4-2 win in the season-opener. Granlund became just the second player in Minnesota history to score his first goal in the first game of the season. "I just got a little lucky," Granlund said of the goal. "I just tipped the puck and it went in. That's a good thing. . . . I just tried to play how I can play. It was great feeling to play the whole game. It was great and I can't wait for tomorrow." Granlund was a phenom in his native Finland, helping the country win the 2011 World Championships and he was memorialized on a stamp after his lacrosse-style goal, in which he scooped the puck with his stick while behind the net and flipped it behind the goaltender for a score in a World Championships semifinal game. Several members of the Finnish media were in town to highlight Granlund's debut alongside fellow countrymen Mikko Koivu and Niklas Backstrom. "I think obviously the goal was huge," coach Mike Yeo said. "I thought his faceoffs were really good. One of my favorite parts of the game was when he blocked that shot. There's a kid stepping in and saying, 'You know what guys? I want to be a part of this and I'll pay a price for you guys.' So, I had absolutely zero problems with him defensively. I thought he was very good. I thought he managed the puck very well and he's a threat every time he's on the ice." Heatley meshes with his new linemates: Dany Heatley led Minnesota in shots, goals and points last season while playing in all 82 games in his first season with the Wild. But the team around him changed constantly and he finished with the lowest goal total (24) of any full-season he's played in the NHL. Paired now with Koivu and Parise, Heatley is primed for a big comeback season. Heatley and Yeo have talked about how the forward worked hard to be in good shape during the lockout and Heatley scored two power-play goals Saturday to lead the Wild. He now has 351 goals in his career. Heatley has the most power play goals in the NHL (131) since his debut in 2002. "We had two guys that (played 82 games) last year and especially in that second half, it was tough," Yeo said of Heatley. "There was a lot of heat on him. He played most of the year without Mikko. And so you put Mikko with him, and Heater's a great player, and he's an even better player with Mikko. And you add a guy like Zach and that just compounds." Bouchard returns: Forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard returned to Minnesota's lineup for the first time since Jan. 4, 2012 and scored his 99th career goal. It was a big return for Bouchard, who has dealt with concussion issues the past two seasons. Bouchard has been healthy and played well in training camp after saying last week that he was finally free of concussion symptoms for the first time last month. Konopka makes his impact: Before the Wild signed Parise and Suter last year, they made a move to sign forward Zenon Konopka, an enforcer who is also strong in the faceoff circle. Konopka also had a memorable debut. He fought Colorado's Cody McLeod early in the first period, and later had his nose broken after being hit with an errant stick. He finished with seven penalty minutes and 5:19 of ice time. He won three of his five faceoffs. A successful Hockey Day Minnesota 2013: Minnesota announced an attendance of 19,298, the sixth-highest Xcel Center crowd in Wild history. Making the total even more notable was a decrease in seating this season from 18,064 to 17,954 due to a new lounge created in the arena. The Wild improved to 5-1-1 all-time on Hockey Day Minnesota. Minnesota was the fourth game of five broadcasts Saturday as part of the seventh-annual day-long tribute to the sport in the state. The day began with boys high school hockey games played outdoors on Lake Pokegama in Grand Rapids, followed with the University of Minnesota facing North Dakota and then the Wild. The day wrapped up with a tape-delayed girls hockey game back out on the lake in Grand Rapids. Streak intact: The Wild have never lost a home opener played at the Xcel Energy Center. Saturday's 4-2 win ran Minnesota's record to 11-0-1 in season openers at the arena, including 11 straight. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Budweiser: Peyton Manning not paid for Super Bowl beer plug

Archie Manning: 'I think Peyton's done in Denver'

Donald Trump: I told Tom Brady not to endorse me for President

Marshawn Lynch: Complicated and talented NFL anti-hero

Hue Jackson lets Manziel and ex know they aren’t alone

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher


Tyronn Lue faces backlash for Cavs record since Blatt’s firing

Report: LeSean McCoy assaulted off duty Philly police officers

John Elway was right, the Broncos didn’t need a Plan B

Canadiens and Sharks starting to gauge trade market

Danny Trevathan: Broncos defense better than ’85 Bears

Top 10 takeaways from Super Bowl 50

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

Top defensive performances in Super Bowl history

FBI questions Jeremy Shockey about drug and gambling ring

Coldplay drummer thought Johnny Football was real name

Ranking every game from 2015 NFL Playoffs

PHOTO: Panthers LB shows gruesome arm injury after SB

Patriots, Panthers early Super Bowl 51 favorites

Von Miller trolls Cam Newton, Panthers

Cam Newton proves again he is a great winner and terrible loser

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker