Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov talks for the first time about his fight with Alex Ovechkin: ‘I am not superhero’
Andrei Svechnikov wants everyone to know he didn’t pick a fight with Alex Ovechkin.
“I am not a superhero, ask first for a fight,” he said Saturday, smiling.
Svechnikov was back skating with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday and the forward could -- could -- play in Game 6 of the playoff series against the Washington Capitals on Monday at PNC Arena.
Knocked unconscious in a fight with the Caps’ Ovechkin in Game 3, Svechnikov took part in the Canes’ morning skate before Game 5 at Capital One Arena. Wearing a full cage on his helmet, he had a yellow no-contact jersey.
“I feel very good and I hope to play next game, we’ll see,” Svechnikov said.
Svechnikov and Ovechkin, who at 6-3 and 235 pounds is an inch taller and 40 pounds heavier, squared off with nine minutes left in the opening period of Game 3 in Raleigh. Svechnikov suffered what he said was the first concussion of his hockey career and was placed in the NHL concussion protocol.
Ovechkin said after the game that Svechnikov wanted to fight, saying, “He asked me to fight and I said, ‘Let’s go, yeah.’”
Not so, Svechnikov said Saturday.
“He did ask me first for a fight,” Svechnikov said.
The two Russians had exchanged a few hits and slashes in the first two games of the Eastern Conference playoff series in Washington -- the Canes’ 19-year-old rookie challenging one of the league’s top stars and the best Russian-born NHL player. Svechnikov, who scored twice in Game 1, said before Game 3 that he grew up in Russia admiring Ovechkin and had enjoyed competing against him in the regular season and playoffs, calling it fun.
But things escalated again in Game 3 to the point the gloves were dropped. Oveckin got in the biggest blows, knocking Svechnikov to the ice. It was Svechnikov’s first NHL fight and the first for Ovechkin since 2010.
“It was just back and forth all series, you know,” Svechnikov said. “It was just, like, fight. It sometimes happens. I just stood up for myself.”
Svechnikov said Ovechkin called him after the game, won 5-0 by the Canes. Asked if Ovechkin apologized, he said, “Yeah, a little bit, you know. I said like ‘Sometimes it happens, you never know.’”
The Canes, with the series tied 2-2, played Game 5 on Saturday without three injured forwards -- Svechnikov, Jordan Martinook and Micheal Ferland. Forward Aleksi Saarela, recalled Friday from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, was on a line with Greg McKegg and Patrick Brown. All three have played with the Checkers this season and Brown is the team captain.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Saarela, who scored 30 goals from the Checkers this season, has a “bomb for a shot” but said making his Stanley Cup playoff debut in the middle of the series was difficult for a young player.
“It’s a tough moment to be thrown into the fire like this,” he said.