Joni Pitkanen scores in first game back in Finnish hometown (Video)

Sean Leahy

Joni Pitkanen scored his first goal in almost three years during a 3-2 Karpat victory over KooKoo in Finland’s Liiga on Tuesday.  

It wasn’t the prettiest goal, but it gave Karpat a 1-0 lead early in the first period in Pitkanen’s first game in his hometown in 13 years. 

"No one skates like him. How can he play that well?” said Karpat head coach Lauri Marjamäki said afterward via Pasi Tuominen. Karpat Sport Director Harri Aho said Pitkanen’s skating ability makes him like a fourth attacker out on the ice. 

The 32-year-old Pitkanen made his return to the ice on Feb. 7 after three years out of the game following a heel injury suffered while a member of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2013. He sat out the previous three games, including last week’s Champions Hockey League final loss against Frolunda, after skating 20:04 in his return to Karpat, where he played from 1998-2003

Karpat next plays on Thursday, where Pitkanen says he hopes to play, but given his long recovery from injury he’s taking things day by day.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!