Russian goalie Alexander Pechurski played his first game on Saturday and he was named 3rd star of the match thanks to his 12 saves in 35 minutes. In an interview with Russian website allhockey.ru he talked about his eventful weekend and his NHL experience.
RussianHockeyFans.com offers you a translation.
Alexander, I don't even know if I should congratulate you for your NHL debut or encourage you for your team's defeat...
Pechurski: "Yeah, I have a lot of emotions. My first NHL match came as surprise. Marc-Andre Fleury got an injury and they asked me to arrive here (Pechursky played the night before in Tri-City, around 600 kms from Vancouver - ASR). My team mates supported me a lot and thus I wasn't baffled (smiles). I think I played pretty well for my first game and I'm really happy."
You had to play with Marc-Andre Fleury pads. Did they fit well?
Pechurski: "Frankly speaking, it wasn't really comfortable (smiles)."
Only the day before this game you played in the WHL against Seattle and the math wasn't easy for you as you had to face 34 shots. And today you were on ice with Crosby, Malkin and Gonchar. Was it harder psychologically or physically?
Pechurski: "Physically. The WHL match started at seven PM. Then I got up at four in the morning and flew from Tri-City to Seattle, then from Seattle to Vancouver. I arrived to the practice directly from the airplane, it was at 11.30 AM. And in a few hours we had the game. It was really tough."
Pittsburgh signed you to a contract valid for one game only. Is there the possibility for you to become part of the main roster?
Pechurski: "No. That variant is excluded for now since I still have one year left from my contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL."
How did the team welcome you?
Pechurski: "At the beginning I was really worried, as playing in the NHL was my childhood dream. They welcomed me very well, my team mates really supported me, even if I was the youngest player of the team, but Pittsburgh isn't really an "old" team. For the whole game they encouraged me and gave advices, and I can only thank them."
What were you thinking when you were sitting on the bench and you started understanding that you could have been iced, considering that John Curry was allowing goal after goal?
Pechurski: "Yes, of course I've thought about how to get on the ice as quickly as possible. I couldn't think about anything else."
Did you get any souvenir from this match?
Pechurski: "I've picked up the puck as a memory (smiles)."
Maybe the same one that you didn't stop in the second period?
Pechurski: (laughs) "I can't really reply to this question. I don't know myself. But I picked up a puck."
What did impress you more in the NHL after your stretch in the WHL?
Pechurski: "I’d say that here there is more sharpness, more tactics, more shots on goal, and that’s great for a goalie’s professional growth. I’m glad that “Steel Foxes” (Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s junior affiliate in the MHL - ASR) agreed to let me go to North America. Here I have really no complaints, everything satisfies me."
You played in four different leagues. MHL, KHL, WHL and now NHL too. This means that you played in two leagues with big rinks, and in two leagues with small rinks. Where is it better to play?
Pechurski: "Frankly speaking it’s more comfortable on small rinks, although I played almost my whole career with the big ice surface."
But nevertheless Vladimir Plyuschev didn’t call you to the WJC, even if they were played on small rinks. Can you tell us why you were excluded?
Pechurski: "You need to ask this to Vladimir Plyuschev himself, I don’t really know."
Were you thinking about North America already on the start of the season?
Pechurski: "Yes, of course. I asked many times Gennady Velichkin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk's GM - ASR), but there were some problems we couldn’t fix."