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Svechnikov injury leaves Canes ‘sick’ but motivated

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour on fight between Ovechkin and Svechnikov: ‘I’m still sick to my stomach about it’

Hurricanes' coach Brind'Amour talks with the media about the fight between Svechnikov and Ovechkin following the Hurricanes' 5-0 win.
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Hurricanes' coach Brind'Amour talks with the media about the fight between Svechnikov and Ovechkin following the Hurricanes' 5-0 win.

Andrei Svechnikov asked Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin if he wanted to fight.

It was the last thing the Carolina Hurricanes rookie did on Monday in Game 3 and maybe for the rest of the first-round series. Ovechkin appeared to knock Svechnikov out with a punch and did knock him out of the game at 10:59 in the first period.

The fight was the only thing the Canes lost on Monday. They won their first home playoff game in 10 years with a 5-0 domination of the Caps. But it was mostly without their rookie right wing, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft who scored 20 goals this season.

After his first NHL fight, Svechnikov needed help off the ice and he didn’t return. The head injury, and possible concussion — officially “upper body” according to the team’s injury report — could keep the 19-year-old rising star out for more than just the time he missed on Monday.

“He has a special bond with our group and me, too,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “When you see that, it makes you sick. I’m still sick to my stomach about it.”

Svechnikov wasn’t available to talk to the media after the game. Brind’Amour said he checked on him after the first period but didn’t see him after the game.

“I came in after the (first) period to check on him and he wasn’t looking too good,” Brind’Amour said.

Watch a time-lapse as Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour talks about the fight between the Canes' Andrei Svechnikov and the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin Monday, April 15, 2019. Svechnikov was injured and did not return.

Ovechkin, the NHL’s leading goal-scorer during the regular season and the playoff MVP last year, said Svechnikov had asked the veteran Russian star to fight.

“I’m not a big fighter, he’s the same way,” Ovechkin said. “He asked me to fight and I said, ‘Let’s go.’ I hope he’s OK. You don’t want to see a guy get hurt.”

The skirmish and pushing between the two Russians leading up to the fight lasted longer than the actual fisticuffs. Svechnikov, who had two goals in Game 1, was pushing and shoving with Ovechkin along the boards in the Washington zone and then out in front of the goal.

Svechnikov nodded affirmatively to Ovechkin and the Washington captain quickly dropped his stick and gloves. Ovechkin grabbed Svechnikov’s right shoulder with his left hand and quickly tied the Canes’ rookie up.

Svechnikov threw the first two punches but didn’t land either with any force. Ovechkin missed his first right hand but the second landed square on Svechnikov’s jaw. The punch, on the replay, appeared to knock Svechnikov out before he hit the ice.

The hard landing on the ice didn’t help. Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk and two of the officials immediately signaled to the Carolina bench for medical help.

RAL_CANES-SP-041519-RTW19.JPG
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

Svechnikov was on the ice for a few minutes before Faulk and Jordan Staal helped him slowly off the ice. The image of a staggered Svechnikov stayed with the Canes.

“I kept thinking about it the whole game,” Canes defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. “I just hated seeing that, the whole part of it. It’s just something you never want to see. I just feel bad for him and hopefully he gets better soon.”

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Carolina Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov (37) is attended to after being 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

Both players got a five-minute penalty for fighting. Ovechkin went to the penalty box and actually got a bag of ice for his sore right hand.

The score was tied at 0-0 when the fight happened and the Canes were able to take a 1-0 lead by the end of the period.

The fight added to the intensity of the game, or a “little more snarl” as Canes captain Justin Williams put it. But the Canes were buzzing around and playing with energy before the fight. The Canes played with “more desperation” as Washington coach Todd Reirden said multiple times.

The fight might have thrown Ovechkin off. He was dominant early, as were the Caps, seeking to take a 3-0 series lead, but quiet after those first 10 minutes. The Caps only had one shot in the second period, as a team, and went about 30 minutes with only registering one shot on goal.

“We can’t play like that if we want to win,” Ovechkin said. “We’re better than that.”

The Canes also missing forward Micheal Ferland, with an “upper body” injury, after the first period but were able to overcome the unexpected shortage of forwards.

Svechnikov was the Canes’ leader in points (3) through the first two playoff games and had been moved up to a line with Staal and Williams. Warren Foegele was one of the forwards who picked up Svechnikov’s ice time. Foegele scored the game’s first two goals and added an assist.

“It’s an unfortunate incident there, but that’s our brother and we all stand up for each other,” Foegele said. “We knew we needed to get this win, not just for us but for him.”

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