Sports

Canes’ Svechnikov sidelined with concussion after Ovechkin fight

Carolina Hurricanes rookie forward Andrei Svechnikov is in the concussion protocol and his availability uncertain for the playoff series against the Washington Capitals, Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Tuesday.

Svechnikov, the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, was injured in the first period of Game 3 on Monday after a brief but brutal fight with the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin, who landed the heaviest of the blows. Svechnikov, whose head banged off the ice as he fell, was taken to a hospital for treatment and evaluation, Brind’Amour said.

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Washington Capital’s Alex Ovechkin (8) fights with Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov (37) during the first period of their first round Stanley Cup game on Monday, April 15, 2019 at the PNC Arena on Raleigh, N.C. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Brind’Amour said he talked with Svechnikov on Tuesday morning, which he called encouraging.

“From seeing him now, he looks normal and he feels great,” Brind’Amour said. “That’s a real positive sign.”

Brind’Amour said it was unlikely Svechnikov would be able to play Thursday in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. The Canes, after a 5-0 win Monday, trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

“We’re going to be real careful,” Brind’Amour said. “We’re certainly not going to rush him back.”

Canes forward Micheal Ferland also left Monday’s game with an upper-body injury but Brind’Amour had no update on his availability for Game 4.

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Carolina Hurricanes’ Justin Faulk (27) and Jordan Staal (11) attend to teammate Andrei Svechnikov (37) who was knocked to the ice during a fight with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin during the first period on Monday, April 15, 2019 at the PNC Arena on Raleigh, N.C. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

The Canes on Tuesday recalled forward Patrick Brown from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL on an emergency basis. Forward Saku Maenanlanen was a healthy extra on Monday and should be back in the lineup.

Svechnikov, 19, was a 20-goal scorer in the regular season and had both Canes goals in the series opener, a 4-2 loss. He had a few altercations with Ovechkin in Game 2, then a few more Monday before the gloves were dropped by the two Russians.

Brind’Amour said after the game and again Tuesday that he believes Ovechkin, the Caps captain, was primarily responsible for provoking the fight between the two Russians. He noted there are two versions of what occurred -- Ovechkin has said Svechnikov wanted to fight.

“I hear all the comments. I get it,” Brind’Amour said. “But when you’re in the heat of it, you see it a little different. I’m still bothered by it but we’ve moved on now.”

Caps coach Todd Reirden didn’t spend much time Tuesday discussing the fight or aftermath, saying, “I see it as two willing combatants and it’s part of our sport. Two willing combatants, it didn’t work out for one of them and now we’re focused on moving forward.”

The reaction from Svechnikov’s older brother, Evgeny, was stronger. In his Instagram account, Evgeny posted: “One, two Freddy’s coming for YOU” -- a reference to the movie “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and the creepy killer, Freddy Krueger.

Evegeny Svechnikov, a forward with the Detroit Red Wings, later deleted the post and could face some blowback from the league, which has social media guidelines.

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In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.
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