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Baertschi notches 1st NHL goal in fine fashion

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

ST. PAUL, MN -- As he walked over to the media after the game, Calgary Flames winger Sven Baertschi sported a grin that looked like it was going to take over his face.

The happiest guy in the state of Minnesota? Probably. And rightly so.

The 19 year-old scored his first NHL goal on Sunday evening and the best way to describe it would a goal scorer's goal.

Defenceman Derek Smith threw a shot towards the net and the rookie managed to get his stick on it to deflect it on net. Wild netminder Matt Hackett was able to make the initial save but couldn't control the rebound.

Like Curtis Glencross said in his post-game interview, most greenhorns would have blindly tried to whack it in with a one-timer. Not Baertschi. The forward patiently cradled it, flipping it from his backhand to forehand, before firing it overtop of the sprawling goalie.

"It felt awesome," Baertschi said. "It's just a great feeling. Because it was such a nice play makes it even better."

Let it be known Baertschi and veteran pivot Olli Jokinen made a pact before the game on Sunday afternoon.

"Olli said to me, 'So, are you going to score your first tonight? If you score, I'll score too' And he did, so that's perfect."

The elder statesman notched the game-winner 13 minutes later, leading the Flames to a 4-3 victory over the Wild and into eighth place in the Western Conference.

Baertschi has been around for two wins - both monumental in terms of the pressure and playoff implications - but hasn't looked out of place. He admitted nerves did come into play in his first game, Friday against the Winnipeg Jets, and learned some key elements to take into his second game.

"I learned a lot during the first game in Calgary. I wanted to bring that in. I had a couple good plays but there's still some things out there I still have to learn. I'll adjust step-by-step."

Baertschi's family in Switzerland keep close track of his career, watching every single Portland Winterhawks game even though they have to stay up well into the wee hours of the morning to view them. You can be sure they had tuned in to see him record his first NHL tally.

"I told them they had to (watch)," he said with a grin. "They watch my whole WHL games so I'm pretty sure they watch NHL ones too. I hope they taped it."

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