Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic makes NHL debut in home state
Alex Nedeljkovic knew he had to be ready for anything.
A night after earning his first National Hockey League recall, Nedeljkovic was dressing in his first NHL game as the Carolina Hurricanes were facing off with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Nedeljkovic wasn't starting - veteran goaltender Cam Ward was set to make his 20th consecutive appearance in net - but you never know when your name and number will be called. Just ask Jorge Alves. As it turned out, Nedeljkovic was summoned into action at about the halfway point of Tuesday night's game. It was an unexpected way to make his NHL debut, but he was ready.
"Whatever level you're playing at, if you're backing up, you're always ready to go just in case something happens," he said after the game. "It was a lot of fun and pretty surreal."
Leading 2-1 as the puck dropped to begin the second period, Columbus added another pair of goals in the first 10 minutes to stretch their lead to three. The Hurricanes needed a shake-up, and Nedeljkovic was tabbed.
"To be honest, I was a little anxious," he said. "At the moment [I wanted to] hurry up just to get my stuff ready, get everything on and get in the net. After that, I tried to break it down into five-minute increments as best I could."
Nedeljkovic made his first NHL save at the 14:12 mark of the second period, nearly five minutes after he took to the crease, as he turned away a 35-foot wrister from Alexander Wennberg.
"You always want to start the game off right with a save. To get the first one out of the way was a big sigh of relief," he said. "Guys made my job a little easier forcing shots from the outside. That just makes it easier for me."