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The First 100 (And One)

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Michael Smith

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Games played milestones are often marked every hundred, and Elias Lindholm hit the century mark of his National Hockey League career on Saturday night in St. Louis.

After practice in Raleigh on Thursday, we looked back on his first 100 (and one) games.

“It goes quick. 100 games fly by,” Lindholm said. “Over one-and-a-half seasons now I’ve been playing over here. It goes fast.”

Lindholm’s first game in the NHL was Opening Night of the 2013-14 season, when the Canes hosted the Detroit Red Wings in what was a 3-2 overtime loss. The 18-year-old rookie logged 9:16 of ice time, a third of which was on the power play.

“I don’t remember much from the game, but it was a good atmosphere and fun to be a part of,” said Lindholm, who was drafted fifth overall just a few months prior. “I don’t know how much I played that game – seven minutes, maybe? It was fun to see all the good players out there and the atmosphere at the rink.”

Adding another element of significance to an already memorable game, Lindholm faced off with seven of his countrymen, including Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson.

“It was fun playing against all those Swedes,” he said. “I remember Zetterberg had a really good game. It was cool to see him play. You don’t realize how good they are until you’re over here.”

Though he doesn’t remember much from the game itself, he recalls seeing some familiar faces afterward.

“I remember after the game when I walked down to talk to my parents and met a couple Swedes from Detroit,” Lindholm said. “They said, ‘Good luck in the rest of the season.’”

Three games later, Lindholm scored his first-career NHL goal. Jeff Skinner skated into the Washington zone with the puck and lost it, but Lindholm was there to pick it up. He settled it, turned and fired a shot that pinballed off a defender and in.

But of the 17 goals he’s scored in his first 101 games, that might not be his most memorable.

“It was obviously fun to score against (Henrik) Lundqvist,” he said, smiling. “That’s something I can tell my kids later.”

That goal was a backhander from the slot, though not exactly "top cheese," on the Swedish netminder in a 3-1 Hurricanes win over the New York Rangers on March 11.

With 101 games in the books and an entire career ahead of the now-20-year-old, what is the biggest lesson Lindholm has learned in his first year-and-a-half in the NHL?

“It’s cool to see how hard the guys work out between, before and after the games. That’s something I try to take after and can be better on,” he said. “It wasn’t like that in Sweden. We worked out sometimes, but it wasn’t like everyone was doing it by themselves because they want to be better. That’s pretty cool to see.”

Though the swift pace of the NHL schedule hasn’t allowed Lindholm much time to pause and reflect on his first 100 (and one) games, he was able to step back over the summer and assess his still-young career.

“Sometimes when I’m back home, it kind of hits me,” he said. “I’m living the dream over here playing. That’s what I always wanted.”

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