Carolina Hurricanes

Svechnikov tricks Flames, treats Canes fans in 2-1 victory

Andrei Svechnikov has tried it before in a Carolina Hurricanes game. He has worked hard at mastering it.

But never before has the Russian forward been able to score on it in a game. Not hockey’s version of the scoop and score, a dazzling lacrosse move he pulled off Tuesday against the Calgary Flames in spurring a 2-1 victory at PNC Arena.

For much of the game, the Canes (8-3-1) could not solve Flames goalie David Rittich. Svechnikov, who likes to dabble in magic tricks, then pulled the closest thing to one on the ice, and at just the right time for the Canes.

Collecting the puck behind the Flames net, he stopped and balanced it on the blade of his stick, reaching out and flipped it over Rittich’s right shoulder at the post. Just like that the score was tied 1-1. And not for long.

A little more than three minutes later, Svechnikov scored on a power play, ripping a shot from the left circle, for a 2-1 lead. It wasn’t over yet, not with 7:25 left in regulation. The Canes needed to kill off a penalty in the final minutes -- the Flames pulling Rittich for a 6-on-4 advantage -- but they wouldn’t be denied this night as goalie Petr Mrazek stood tall again at PNC Arena.

And what about The Move? They celebrated the 20th anniversary of the opening of PNC Arena on Tuesday, and Canes fans will be talking about the Svechnikov shot for many a year -- said to be the first successful lacrosse shot in NHL history.

“I went behind the net and I feel like I’ve got room and I should try that,” Svechnikov said. “I got lucky a little bit there.”

Or maybe not, Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

“He practices it every day for the past two years and did it every day as a kid, you know,” Brind’Amour said. “He never misses it in practice so it was just a matter of time before it was going to happen. A goal like that ... it’s almost what needed to happen.”

Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37), of Russia, celebrates with teammates following Svechnikov’s goal against the Calgary Flames during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Carolina won 2-1. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) Gerry Broome AP

The crafty move has been called “The Michigan” since Mike Legg first pulled it off for the University of Michigan in 1996. And Svechnikov wasn’t the only hockey player to pull it off Tuesday -- Nils Hoglander, a Vancouver Canucks prospect, also did it in a Swedish Hockey League game.

For more than 50 minutes, the Flames held the lead after a first-period goal by Elias Lindholm, a former first-round draft pick by the Canes, and the deft goaltending of Rittich. But the Flames turned the puck over a couple of times and the puck soon bounced behind the net.

And Svechnikov struck.

“Give him credit for the creativity and execution there,” Flames coach Bill Peters said.

Svechnikov attempted the lacrosse shot against the New York Islanders as a rookie last season and said he also tried to score on it while with the Barrie Colts, playing junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League, saying he hit the crossbar.

Svechnikov said he caught some chirps from some of his teammates after the game. Brind’Amour, he said, reminded him that the two had practiced the move at Tuesday’s morning skate.

“He’s the guy who would do it and he’s capable of doing it,” Canes defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. “It was unreal to see it go in.”

Hamilton said the players on the bench were both excited and laughing after the shot.

“I think he was pretty shocked, too,” Hamilton said. “He was smiling and laughing for a couple of minutes after that.”

So much has been expected of Svechnikov since the Canes made him the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. He scored 20 goals as an 18-year-old rookie last season -- a good, solid first year in the NHL -- but none on the power play.

Svechnikov had a slow scoring start this season, with only an empty-net goal in the first 10 games. But he scored twice Saturday as the Canes shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0, including his first career power-play goal, and now has done it again.

And Mrazek has won again. That’s 14 straight at PNC Arena, including his playoff wins last season. In a duel of Czech-born goalies, both faced 28 shots and Mrazek stopped 27.

Lindholm, traded to Calgary by the Canes after the 2017-18 season, blasted a one-timer from the slot for his eighth of the season. But the former Canes -- Peters behind the bench, Lindholm, Noah Hanifin and Derek Ryan on the ice -- did not leave PNC Arena with a second straight win.

The Canes finished the month of October 8-3-1 and with 17 points, matching franchise highs for wins and points in October.

“Obviously this win was huge for us,” Svechnikov said. “I think I’m going to be excited tonight, for sure.”

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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.