For most looking in on the preseason opener, the main attraction of Tuesday night’s game was the first NHL-level appearance from second overall draft pick Andrei Svechnikov, who is expected to break camp with the Canes and be a critical piece in enhancing what has been a stale offensive club for a number of years. Canes fans were not disappointed in the team, or in Svechnikov, as he produced a goal and an assist in his NHL preseason debut as the Hurricanes toppled the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 4-1 score.
The Canes were able to get the season going in style as Michal Cajkovsky, in camp on a tryout basis, slipped one through traffic and past Andrei Vasilevskiy just over four minutes into the game. Later in the period, which was mostly controlled by the Canes, Lucas Wallmark, who my colleague Brett Finger noted faces a big opportunity with the recent Victor Rask injury, put home a power play tally on a wrister from the left circle. Svechnikov tallied his first point with a secondary assist.
Both teams traded Power Plays in the early going of the second period, with neither denting the scoreboard. Around the halfway point, Petr Mrazek wrapped up his Hurricanes debut, as he stopped all nine shots he faced in the first 30 minutes. Finally, after controlling another period, the Canes added another goal inside the final minute as Valentin Zykov got a stick on a Patrick Brown shot to make the score 3-0 at the end of two periods.
As the third period commenced, Cajkovsky entered the penalty box for the Canes after a delay of game call, and the Bolts made them pay immediately as Mathieu Joseph beat Alex Nedeljkovic to bring Tampa within two at 3-1. Then finally, the show everyone was waiting for. At 7:11 of the third period, Svechnikov received a feed from Phil Di Giuseppe and slammed one into the back of the cage on the Power Play for what the Canes hope will just be the first of many.
The Canes were in charge of the game despite Tampa carrying more veterans on the roster for the contest. Carolina more than doubled the Bolts’ shot output with a 35-17 edge.
An interesting side note from Tuesday night’s game is that both the Lightning and Hurricanes wore solid-colored sweaters (Tampa in blue, Canes in red). (Not sure how interesting that is to others, but I get to write this, so you’re gonna hear about it anyway.)
All in all, it was a successful debut for Svechnikov and Hurricanes bench boss Rod Brind’Amour. The Canes and Lightning return to the ice again tomorrow night in the preseason home opener at PNC Arena.