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'Other' Sebastian Aho trying to make name for himself with Islanders

Rookie defenseman, who has same name as Hurricanes forward, gets first NHL goal, assist in win against Devils

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- How do you respond if someone says Sebastian Aho is trying to make a name for himself in the NHL?

Easy. You ask, which one?

There are now two Sebastian Ahos, same spelling and all, in the NHL. One has been around since last season. The other had a breakout performance Sunday. 

Sebastian Aho is a second-year forward with the Carolina Hurricanes. He's 20 years old and from Finland. He has 33 points this season. He could be an All-Star. 

Sebastian Aho, different guy, by the way, is a rookie defenseman with the New York Islanders. He's three games into his NHL career. He's 21 years old and from Sweden. 

He's also the subject of this story.

Aho scored his first two NHL points in New York's 5-4 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center on Sunday.

"I'm trying to take [my name] back again," he said, laughing.

He did Sunday, at least for the time being.

Aho keyed New York's third-period comeback from two goals down by scoring his first NHL goal at 7:58 and delivering his first NHL assist at 15:43, a sublime, diagonal, cross-ice saucer pass to set up Cal Clutterbuck's tying goal.

Video: NJD@NYI: Aho scores first NHL goal on power play

He played 19:46 and had four shots on goal.

"I've dreamed about it since I was a little boy," Aho said of his first goal, "so of course there were a lot of emotions and just pure happiness."

Aho was immediately returned to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League after the game because the Islanders have a five-day break and he can practice and play two AHL games before New York plays again Saturday against the New York Rangers.

Given his performance against the Devils, it'd be shocking if Aho isn't in the lineup at Madison Square Garden.

"He just looks to me very poised and just knows he's a good player," Islanders coach Doug Weight said. "He can make plays. He's just got that 'it' [factor]. He's turned a lot of heads this year."

Maybe if he keeps turning them Aho won't be asked by fans to sign photos of the other Sebastian Aho.

Yes, that happens. 

"It's pretty weird," Aho said. "I've signed a couple."

He hands the others back to the autograph seeker.

At least, Aho said, he occasionally gets asked to autograph a picture of himself too.

"Fortunately," he said, laughing. "It's pretty funny."

They'll be more of him coming if he continues to play the way he did Sunday.

Islanders captain John Tavares said the players on the team immediately recognized Aho's skill when he was recalled from Bridgeport on Dec. 28 to replace Johnny Boychuk, who is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

They saw it in action against the Devils.

"There's no panic in him," Tavares said. "Sometimes, guys in their first couple games can be a little jittery, obviously a little nervous, don't want to make any mistakes, but he's come in with a lot of poise. He reads the play really well. He has a good sense of awareness out there and you saw that on both his goal and the great play to set up the tying goal."

Clutterbuck marveled at Aho's pass to him to set up the game-tying goal.

"It's one of those things where as the guy receiving the pass you know there's a lane there and you know you're open, but not everybody can have the wherewithal to make that play," Clutterbuck said. "He made a great play. Obviously, a window into his talent, patience and ability."

Keep the window open and Aho may make a name for himself.

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