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Recap: Svechnikov puts on a show as Canes stun Flames

Two days before Halloween, Andrei Svechnikov gave Hurricanes fans a real treat to celebrate PNC’s 20th birthday.

Kaydee Gawlik

RALEIGH — PNC Arena turned 20 years old on Tuesday night, and Andrei Svechnikov decided to celebrate the birthday in style, scoring a goal that might stand forever as the most jaw-dropping marker in the arena’s history.

Svechnikov’s two goals in the third period, 3:22 apart, were the difference as the Hurricanes came from behind to stun the Calgary Flames 2-1, including a lacrosse-style goal that was see-to-believe stuff.

Despite the fact that the first period was dominated by the Flames, it was the home team that nearly set the pace in the early going. Flames goalie David Rittich had to make two big stops on the game’s first shift, robbing Warren Foegele from the high slot in his best save of the sequence. But from there, it was all Flames, who made Petr Mrazek work hard to keep it scoreless.

He held up for the first 13 minutes, coming up huge to stop Alan Quine seconds after Foegele’s opportunity, but it was former Hurricane Elias Lindholm who finally got one past Mrazek to open the scoring on a turnaround wrister. Lindholm, who mocked the Storm Surge’s skol clap in the Flames’ win at PNC last season, was rewarded for his efforts with a hearty round of boos from the 13,864 in attendance.

The Flames scored again less than two minutes later on a Mikael Backlund tap-in from the side of the net, but Rod Brind’Amour challenged the play as being offside on the entry. The challenge was upheld as the linesman had inexplicably missed a Flames player miles offside, giving the home teama a second wind.

But the Hurricanes could get nothing going, repeatedly stifled in the neutral zone by an effective Calgary defensive scheme. In the second, they started to turn on the pressure, but Rittich came up huge. The Flames goalie turned back seven Hurricanes shots, including a point-blank opportunity by Sebastian Aho and back-to-back attempts by Jaccob Slavin and Foegele, the latter a save made from his back.

The third started in much the same way, with Rittich denying Erik Haula and Martin Necas in a back-to-back sequence 90 seconds into the period. The Canes didn’t help themselves much either, with Svechnikov firing wide from the bottom of the far circle five minutes later.

And then, out of absolutely nowhere, Svechnikov pulled off the play of the year.

Last year in a game against the Islanders, Svechnikov attempted the lacrosse goal, where he set up behind the net, put the puck flat on his stick and tried to surprise the goalie by depositing it in the net. It didn’t work then, but it did work on Tuesday, sending PNC into pandemonium and prompting Brian Gibbons to deliver a bear hug to his teammate. The Canes bench was euphoric, to say nothing of the crowd, which roared at replay after replay.

Shortly after Svechnikov’s game-tying goal, he gave the Canes the lead on the power play. Rittich was injured on a goal-mouth scramble prior to a whistle, and while he remained in the game he was slow to respond to Svechnikov’s blast from the near circle, giving the Hurricanes their first lead of the game.

The Hurricanes finally got their act together in front of Mrazek in the third period, holding the Flames without a shot for the first 18 minutes of the period. Dougie Hamilton took a tripping penalty with 2:30 to go, which turned into a two-man advantage when Bill Peters pulled Rittich with 1:30 to go. The Canes killed off the penalty and the 30 seconds that followed, running their record to 8-3-1 and keeping them four points behind Washington for tops in the Metro.

They Said It

Rod Brind’Amour:

Well, he practices it every day for the last two years, I’m sure he did it as a kid, and he never misses it in practice. It was just a matter of time before it was going to happen. Obviously it was a huge moment. We needed it.

It’s everything. It felt like what we needed to happen to get a goal. It wasn’t going to happen any other way. Their goalie played great tonight; obviously ours did too. It was a low scoring game but it was in my opinion pretty exciting. Lot of chances both ways.

He’s got a good shot. You’ve got to put pucks to the net on the power play. I think sometimes we get too cute, and he’s got a good weapon there. If it’s open, he’s going to take it, and obviously it was a huge goal.

[Were you fine with him trying that?] Of course. You’re fine with it, especially in that area of the ice. You give them freedom to do whatever you feel. It’s going to be tough for him to get that off again now that everyone knows about it, but he’s a special player that has a special talent who was able to show it tonight. It’s not a fluke. It’s nice to see a kid who puts in some time to do something and can actually do it in a game.

I think we’re going to see more and more of what he’s all about as he gets better and better and understands the game a little more. But the talent’s always there, and now the confidence — that’s a huge thing for a young kid, to know you can actually make these plays and do these things. Once you kind of put that in your back pocket, the sky’s kind of the limit.

[Foegele has gotten] more opportunities. You have to be careful when you’re not playing that much, it’s hard to expect too much. Now we’ve given him more opportunity, he’s taken advantage of it and he’s played really well. You’ve got to always temper what you say about how guys are doing; you have to look at the opportunity too.

I loved our game, start to finish. I loved everything about it. We had some gaffes, but that’s a good team over there. I loved the way we came out to start, hung in there when we didn’t get a goal. We were all around it, it felt like, especially in the second and third I thought we took over the game. They’ll have their chances, they have elite players over there, but I thought every guy had a good game. As a coach, that’s what you’re looking for. You don’t have to be great, and we had some great plays in there obviously, but we had everyone contribute and our goaltending was stellar again.

You’re always looking for perfection. We’ve got a little different group, so it took a little time to figure each other out. We’re still in that process, but I couldn’t have been happier tonight with the result and the way we played.

Andrei Svechnikov:

I went behind the net and and felt I should try it. I actually practiced the move this morning. A great try for me. I tried it last year, and I tried it a couple years ago in the OHL but hit the crossbar.

I practice it with Rod a lot. He passes it to me and I go behind the net to try that move at almost every practice. [Have you scored in a game with that move?] Never. That’s the first time. [More or less than the magic?] Not really. (Laughs)

I saw Mikael Granlund score on it against Russia, and actually my brother taught me how to do that move. [Ever played lacrosse?] Never played it. [Ever thought about starting?]

Game Notes

  • We talked to Dougie Hamilton and Petr Mrazek as well, but let’s be honest...we were in the locker room to talk to one player and one player only. Even Dougie acknowledged the obvious, cutting short an answer to inform the media that Svech had just entered the locker room.
  • Svechnikov has now posted six multi-point games this season. He had seven such games all of last year. It’s October 29.
  • The Canes won their eighth game of the season, tying the franchise mark set in 2005 for wins in October. They’ve hit 17 points for the third time in history in the season’s opening month.
  • Mrazek has now won 14 straight games, including the playoffs, at PNC. His last loss was to the Flames in February. That was almost nine months ago.
  • Bill Peters was asked how he would describe what happened in the third period. His answer was classic Peters: “It’s 20 minutes of hockey. It’s 20 minutes long, we took two penalties, they got momentum and scored on a turnover, we turned it over twice on their first one. Then they scored on the penalty, an inconsequential play in the neutral zone for the game winner. That’s their two goals. We got a power play late and got our goaltender our and we weren’t able to get the equalizer.” Never change, Kinetico Bill.
  • Man, that was really something. The Canes get tomorrow off and will be back to practice on Thursday at PNC.