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First Round

Svechnikov hopes to build on playoff debut with Hurricanes

19-year-old against scored twice, seeks similar results against Capitals in Game 2

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Maybe Andrei Svechnikov didn't know any better.

The Carolina Hurricanes rookie forward certainly didn't look like a nervous 19-year-old making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut when he scored two goals in a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Thursday.

Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said he wasn't surprised but was impressed enough that he talked Friday about trying to find more ice time for Svechnikov in Game 2 of the best-of-7 series at Capital One Arena on Saturday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).

He played 13:37 in Game 1 and, after he scored twice in the third period, Brind'Amour moved him from the third line to the top line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

"He's a real good player, and he's finding his way," Brind'Amour said. "He hasn't even realized, I think, how good he can be. The moment or the playoffs, that doesn't even affect him. I don't even think he's aware of how big a moment it is. That's really helpful, I think, for a young guy.

"He's just going out and playing."

That approach has served Svechnikov well all season. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, he tied with Andreas Johnsson of the Toronto Maple Leafs for third among rookies with 20 goals during the regular season, and his 37 points tied for seventh among rookies with Dominik Kahun of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Svechnikov (19 years, 16 days) was the youngest player to score at least two goals in a playoff game since Dainius Zubrus (18 years, 329 days) of the Philadelphia Flyers scored twice in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Buffalo Sabres on May 11, 1997. Svechnikov also was the fourth teenager to score multiple goals in his playoff debut, following Pierre Turgeon (18 years, 222 days) with the Sabres in 1988, Eddie Olczyk (18 years, 237 days) with the Blackhawks in 1985, and Don Gallinger (17 years, 339 days) with the Boston Bruins in 1943.

Video: CAR@WSH, Gm1: Svechnikov buries first playoff goal

"I feel like I'm pretty confident and I get great emotion, but we lost that game," Svechnikov said. "We have to win the next game."

One of 10 Hurricanes making his NHL playoff debut, Svechnikov didn't show it, but said he was, "kind of a little bit nervous because that's my first game in the playoffs." Although he was on the receiving end of three big hits from Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik over the first two periods, he was undeterred.

Svechnikov (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) is well suited for the physical game.

"I expect like it was going to be hard, but it was like really hard," he said. "It was a much faster game and more physical game."

Brind'Amour said he didn't like the way Svechnikov played in the first two periods, but he wasn't the only Hurricanes player to struggle against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Then, Svechnikov gave Carolina a much-needed boost 5:07 into the third period when he made a strong move around defenseman John Carlson in the right circle and cut to the net for a shot that beat goalie Braden Holtby to the far side for his first playoff goal.

"He's done that probably 50 times this year," Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook said." It's fun to watch, especially against a guy like Carlson. He's probably one of the best defensemen in the League, and for him to come out and do that just shows the strength he has. He's not the typical 19-year-old, that's for sure."

Svechnikov struck again on a one-timer from the right circle at 7:26 to make it 3-2.

"He got free a couple times, and that's kind of what he can do," Brind'Amour said. "We've got to figure out how to get him more ice time and get him freed up a little more because he has that ability. He's one of those game-changing-type players. He's going to be, and he does have that in him."

Video: CAR@WSH, Gm1: Svechnikov rips home one-timer

With Aho, who led Carolina with 30 goals during the regular season, mired in a 15-game goal drought, and Micheal Ferland without a goal in his past 18 games, the Hurricanes need other forwards to step up if they're going to have a chance to defeat the Capitals. Svechnikov demonstrated in Game 1 that he is talented enough, and maybe young and naïve enough, to do it.

"We just said before the game there's no pressure on him," Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said. "Just go do it. Go enjoy it. Go have fun. That's what this time of year is about, and we're going to need even more from him if we're going to advance."

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