Hurricanes rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov wins NHL debut

The Carolina Hurricanes surround goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov (52) after beating the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in overtime in an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Newark, NJ (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ).

The Carolina Hurricanes surround goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov (52) after beating the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in overtime in an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Newark, NJ (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun ).

AP

Carolina Hurricanes rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov doesn’t speak English, so it’s hard to tell what his feelings were on Saturday after winning his NHL debut against the New Jersey Devils.

But Kochetkov jumped around in celebration after the Canes rallied late in rule to level the score and then won 3-2 in overtime through a Seth Jarvis goal. His body language was all geared towards being a very enthusiastic 22-year-old and he was quickly bullied by some very lucky teammates.

The Canes were 2-0 down in the third period but Brady Skjei equalized at 4:36 and then Nino Niederreiter scored at 1:56. Skjei had his shot from New Jersey’s Kevin Bahl and past goaltender Jon Gillies, and Niederreiter jumped on a loose puck after Tony DeAngelo’s shot found Canes’s Jesper Fast up front just after Kochetkov was drawn for a sixth attacker.

It went into overtime and Jarvis, who won the game against Winnipeg on Thursday, did it again. After pressure from Sebastian Aho forced a Devils turnover, Jarvis took a pass from DeAngelo and ripped a shot past a sliding Gillies at 1:39 OT.

The Canes collected the puck as a souvenir for Kochetkov, who finished with 17 saves. Jarvis said with a smile Kochetkov mumbled “thank you” in the dressing room after the game when he was asked to stand up and say a few words.

“It was electric. Everyone was super happy, super pumped up for him,” Jarvis said.

AP22113714860642.jpg
Carolina Hurricanes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov (52) celebrates with center Seth Jarvis (24) after Jarvis scored the winning goal in overtime in an NHL hockey game to put the New Jersey Devils 3rd in the game on Saturday, April 23, 2022 in Newark : 2 to defeat. NJ (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) Bill Kostroun AP

The win took the Canes (51-20-8) to 110 points as Carolina and the New York Rangers continue to battle for the Metropolitan Division title. The Rangers, who have 108 points, faced the Boston Bruins later on Saturday.

Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour noted that Kochetkov made two good saves after the Devils took a 2-0 lead. The biggest was a breakaway in the third period by Jesper Boqvist.

“It’s a great moment for him,” said Brind’Amour. “It’s the NHL. It’s something special. He will remember it forever, especially the outcome of that game.”

The Canes think they could have something special in the 6-foot-3, 205-pound goalie from Penza, Russia. He was their fifth pick in the second round of the 2019 NHL draft, 36th overall, and he’s had experience in both the KHL of Russia and the American Hockey League this season after joining the Chicago Wolves .

Kochetkov was called on an emergency call from Chicago following the lower body injury sustained by goalie Frederik Andersen in Colorado last week. With the Canes playing back-to-back games against the Devils and Islanders, the decision was made to give Kochetkov his first start on Saturday.

“We’ll give him a chance and see what he comes up with,” Brind’Amour said.

Kochetkov had a slow first period and had six shots to go. He then allowed his first NHL goal of the second half on a Devils power play on a tip from Yegor Sharangovich. In the third, Nico Hischier smacked him to the other side as New Jersey took a 2-0 lead.

With Gillies playing well and making all the saves, Kochetkov’s first game only seemed memorable as his NHL debut. But the Canes’ forecheck finally brought better offensive chances in the third.

“It felt like we tilted the ice a bit in the third and had some nice jumps,” said Skjei.

Canes goalie Antti Raanta caused a stir over Kochetkov this week. After his first look at the newcomer to a practice, Raanta said he was “a bit of a Russian mix of Vasilevskiy and Bobrovsky”.

That means Andrei Vasilevskiy from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Sergei Bobrovsky from the Florida Panthers. This refers to two former winners of the Vezina Trophy. That’s a high bar.

Another scouting report came from Cane’s goalkeeping coach Paul Schonfelder, who said this week:

“Just dynamic, big kid, covers a lot of net, can move east/west fast, good hands. He’s a big presence on the web. He is dynamic. A lot of these Russian-born goalkeepers that you see in the league have that dynamic edge. You are not a cookie cutter. You can get out of that technical box and he has the ability to do that.”

The Canes players seem to like him and call him “Pete” or “Peter”. Andrei Svechnikov helped him as best he could – Svechnikov as translator in an interesting role reversal.

“Svech is taking him under his wing,” Skjei said.

Kochetkov faced the appeal 13-1-1 in the AHL. He was the league’s Rookie of the Month in March and helped the Wolves win another Central Division title in the AHL.

Brind’Amour said he didn’t speak much to Kochetkov but said he only needed three words: “Stop the puck.”

This story was originally published Apr 23, 2022 11:03 am.

In more than 30 years with The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the beats of NC State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina and is now in his 11th season with the Carolina Hurricanes. A winner of numerous state and national author awards, Alexander covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.

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