Svechnikov aims to guide Hurricanes past Staal, Wild

Carolina Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov keeps adding to his production, so much so that some of the second-year professional's statistics are being compared to those of former member of the organization.

That would be Eric Staal in this case.

On Saturday night, Staal and the Minnesota Wild will face the Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C.

Svechnikov is fresh off scoring the shootout winner in Thursday night's 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks. Prior to that, the 19-year-old Russian had a goal and assist in regulation.

Now with a team-leading 31 points, Svechnikov has achieved that number in 29 games. He's the sixth player in Carolina team history to reach that 30-point level in 29 or fewer games. One of the others is Staal, who did so in 24 games in the 2012-13 season.

The shootout conversion winner became another accomplishment for Svechnikov.

"It was my first one and I'm super excited," he said.

Svechnikov continues to provide exciting moments for the Hurricanes, something the organization figures could be just in its infancy.

"I think he's just getting better and better and getting more confident with all his play-making ability," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "He's tough to handle. His willingness to try to get better. That's why he's going to be a great player."

The Wild should have no shortage of confidence after Thursday night's 5-4 victory at Tampa Bay pushed the team's points streak to 11 games (8-0-3). That's the second-longest string in team history.

"I think people are realizing that it's not an easy night anymore (to face us)," Wild goalie Alex Stalock said.

The confidence is rising.

"It seems when we have opportunities, we're very opportunistic and put them in," Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. "... (Just having a belief) doesn't work all the time, but when you're winning and things are going good, it works."

The perception that the Wild still seem like an underdog and might be underappreciated is fine with the team members.

"We're trying hard and we're having some success right now," Boudreau said. "We play Carolina and they're a great team, too. We just have to dig deep."

Staal, a former Carolina captain, has done his part for Minnesota with eight goals and 12 assists. Now his brother, Jordan Staal, is captain for the Hurricanes.

Saturday's contest will complete a three-game road trip for the Wild, who will have played 20 of its first 30 games away from home.

Minnesota lost 4-3 in overtime to Carolina on Nov. 16. That was the second game in the Wild's current points streak.

The Hurricanes had lost three of their previous four games prior to Thursday's victory, so it was good to get back with a positive result. That will be important against the Wild as well because the Hurricanes won't have another home game for two weeks.

"The two points are what we're after and we'll take it," Brind'Amour said. "Love the fact that we hung in there."

Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek absorbed a punch from San Jose's Joe Thornton in the second period on Thursday. Mrazek stayed in the game, and by the end his determination was something that the Hurricanes appreciated.

"He's competitive," Brind'Amour said. "He does not want to let that thing in."

--Field Level Media
Copyright © 2020 ESPN Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.