DALLAS – Sven Andrighetto’s night in Dallas was already special before he hit the ice. In the third period he made sure it was one he would never forget.
On Friday night, Andrighetto was in Hamilton with the Bulldogs, adding another goal to the team leading nine he’s scored so far this season. On Saturday morning, he was boarding a flight bound for Texas, ready to suit up for his first career NHL game.
It didn’t take the 21-year-old long to hear his name announced over the PA system in an NHL rink, potting the first goal of his career on just his 10th shift as a Hab.
“I just cycled the puck with [Tomas] Plekanec and [Jiri] Sekac. Plekanec gave me the puck to the net because he saw an opening and I just put it in,” recalled Andrighetto, who had racked up two goals and two assists in his last two games with the Bulldogs before earning his call up to the big show.
The sixth Canadiens player to score in his first NHL game since 1999-00 – and the first since Max Pacioretty did so in his NHL debut on January 2, 2009 – Andrighetto joins Jason Ward (December 3, 1999), Marcel Hossa (January 10, 2002), Alexander Perezhogin (October 6, 2005) and Jonathan Ferland (January 3, 2006) as the only Habs in the past decade-and-a-half to have realized the impressive feat. He managed to crack the scoresheet earlier than he had anticipated, but he would have preferred to have picked up his first career NHL win just as quickly.
“It feels really good to score, but it would have been a lot better if we had won the game,” said the Zurich, Switzerland native, who is in his second professional season after being drafted by Montreal in 2013. “It was great to be able to play on the power play. I tried my best and tried to just take whatever they gave me.”
Enjoying 1:02 seconds on the power play in a game in which the Canadiens spent just four minutes with the man advantage, Andrighetto had plenty of opportunities to show what he could do in his 11:35 workload against the Stars.
“I was a little nervous at the beginning and it took me a while to put that away and just play my game,” he admitted, having scored on his only shot of the night in a 4-1 loss. “I thought I did that in the third period. I tried my best out there. We’ll see where we go from here.”
Capping off a whirlwind day that started before dawn, saw him arrive in Dallas just before lunch and pot a milestone marker a few hours later, the Swiss winger hasn’t had much time to digest the events of the past day just yet, but he’ll be able to fully appreciate his first day in the big leagues during his flight back to Montreal on the team charter.
“I wasn’t really expecting this 24 hours ago. Everything happened really fast. I got called up and just came here right away,” explained Andrighetto. “They told me after the [Bulldogs] game yesterday that I was going up and this morning at 4:00 a.m. they picked me up to fly here. I was busy and it was long but it was exciting. It’s a dream come true.”
After starting the game at center flanked by Sekac and P-A Parenteau, Andrighetto shifted to the wing and saw Plekanec slip into the middle with Sekac on the left. In addition to spending the final 20 minutes on a line with one of the team’s elder statemen, Andrighetto had no shortage of pregame advice to absorb in the room before making his NHL debut – although he admits the most helpful tip he received was also the simplest.
“Everyone was really good to me, trying to give me confidence and everything. They made me feel good. Some guys talked to me about what to do and the coaches talked to me about the systems,” shared Andrighetto, before revealing the one key piece of advice his teammates stressed before puck drop. “The biggest thing was to just have fun. You only have one first NHL game.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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