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ERIK HAULA, WILD — A SHARP-ANKLED GOAL

2017-05-05T20:28:23+00:00 May 5th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

ERIK HAULA, Wild
A SHARP-ANKLED GOAL

Among a goaltender’s primary responsibilities is being proficient at cutting down the angles of puck-carriers with a clear look at the net. Jaroslav Halak of the Islanders must have given some consideration following a 6-4 loss at Minnesota to cutting down ankles as well.

Of course, this was something that Bill Smith mastered during his Stanley Cup years between the pipes for New York, but the Wild’s Erik Haula was too far out of range for that nefarious goalie trick. And left to roam the ice freely, both of Haula’s ankles did in the Islanders on the winning goal.

Haula had none of this in mind. He was just an innocent bystander when Nino Niederreiter took aim at the net from the left faceoff circle. Haula’s objective was to approach the net for a possible rebound chance.

But on his way there, Niederreiter’s shot deflected first off his left ankle and then as he strode forth, the inside of the right one as well.

Halak, who was dropping to the ice for the original shot, had no chance as the double carom elevated the puck over his left shoulder and to the back of the net.

But you can bet that if this did happen in Bill Smith’s era, Haula would have put in for a healthy-scratch day the next time the two teams met.

Move to the 3:37 mark of this clip to see this crazy goal.

12/29/2016 vs. Islanders

TYLER BOZAK, MAPLE LEAFS — BUT CAN HE DO IT WITH A 9-IRON?

2017-05-05T12:22:14+00:00 May 5th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

TYLER BOZAK, Maple Leafs
BUT CAN HE DO IT WITH A 9-IRON?

Hockey players — like golfers — like to showboat during downtime a little by using their stick blade to pop the puck up and down for as many reps as they can. But after Tyler Bozak’s exploits against the Lightning, the practice might become part of every team’s morning skate drills.

The play didn’t start out well for Bozak. He pretty much fanned on a rebound that awaited him on the door step following a Nikita Zaitsev shot from the point. But then he turned dross into gold.

With his flubbed shot still loitering in mid-air above the crease, Bozak stabbed at it with the back of his blade — and still failed to provide enough force to get the puck over the line. As the puck continued to hover over the blue paint, Bozak then flicked it with the front of the stick, and this time the puck actually made it not only into the goal, but all the way to the back of the net!

And perhaps the players who master the trick the quickest at practice in southern climes will be given an early pass to go out and show their golf partners their prowess in this suddenly useful bit of hotdogging.

12/29/16 vs. Tampa Bay

VIKTOR ARVIDSSON, PREDATORS — NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST

2017-05-04T19:21:00+00:00 May 4th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

VIKTOR ARVIDSSON, Predators
NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST

Viktor Arvidsson of the Predators is among the quickest and most elusive players in the league. He also, it turns out, has a great sense of direction.

Arvidsson employed that sixth sense against St. Louis on a rush at the tail end of a 4-on-4 situation when he executed a series of moves that resulted in one of the prettiest goals of the year.

Picking up the puck just over the center-ice line, Arvidsson had defenseman Jay Bouwmeister directly in his way and no support from any teammates.

Left to his own devices, Arvidsson avoided Bouwmeister’s poke check as he hit the top of the left circle by tapping the puck between his own legs without breaking stride.

This maneuver, however, left him at the bottom of the left circle — and on his backhand, to boot. Instead of flipping a low-percentage shot from this spot, Arvidsson dipped his right shoulder and chose the x-axis for the remainder of his skate, after initiating it on the y.

Veering right above the blue paint, Arvidsson came out on the other side of the crease with the puck now on his forehand. Like Bouwmeister before him, Blues goalie Jake Allen tried to prod the puck away from the Nashville trickster, and got similar results — except he couldn’t hold on to his stick.

The difficult part behind him, Arvidsson simply coasted until he saw a maximal opening in the net and with a swipe of the stick completed one of the most skillful rushes of the season.

12/30/2016 vs. St. Louis

MICHAL KEMPNY, BLACKHAWKS — FIRST NHL GOAL

2017-04-28T17:12:43+00:00 April 28th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

MICHAL KEMPNY, Blackhawks
FIRST NHL GOAL

After playing the first half of his 20s in eastern Europe, Czech-born defenseman Michal Kempny was signed by the Blackhawks prior to the 2016-17 season. He played in 50 games with Chicago and scored his first NHL goal in his 25th.

Kempny had just come on the ice during a change and his momentum carried him to the top of the left circle. The always-alert Jonathan Toews spotted him and softly distributed the puck so that Kempny could one-time it while skating forward.

Kempny obliged by stepping into the puck and blasting it by Carolina goaltender Cam Ward, pinging the post in the process.

Toews immediately embraced his Blackhawks teammate, likely fully aware of the moment, and wrapped his arm around his shoulder. Kempny returned the gesture, patting Toews repeatedly on his back — no doubt a great debt of gratitude mixed in with the excitement of his first NHL goal.

12/30/2016 vs. Carolina

MATTHEW PECA, LIGHTNING — FIRST NHL GOAL

2017-04-25T19:37:45+00:00 April 25th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

MATTHEW PECA, Lightning
FIRST NHL GOAL

Seventh-round draft picks, should they make it to the NHL at all, often have to kick around the bus leagues for several years before getting rewarded for their commitment with that coveted call-up. But Matthew Peca of the Lightning made it to the show just a year-and-a-half out of Quinnipiac University.

Peca became the first product of the southern Connecticut school to score in the NHL. It took him just four games to register his first goal — though it was the only one he would score in his ten games for Tampa Bay during the 2016-17 season.

It was pretty much a do-it-yourself goal for Peca, who collected an indirect pass off the boards from teammate Vladislav Namesnikov as he crossed the Winnipeg blue line.

From there, it was a simple burst to the faceoff dot and a quick release of a snap shot that beat goaltender Connor Hellebuyck cleanly and tied the game 1-1 in the second period.

Following the goal, Peca glided behind the net and pushed both hands down and lifted one leg up in a restrained display of emotion. The embrace from his teammates was unremarkable, though Namestnikov appeared pleased with the outcome, and the trip past the bench revealed little emotion beyond the ordinary.

1/3/2017 vs. Winnipeg

JUSTIN BAILEY, SABRES – FIRST NHL GOAL

2017-04-11T23:55:46+00:00 April 11th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Goal Box|

JUSTIN BAILEY, Sabres
FIRST NHL GOAL

Although Sabres fans follow native son Patrick Kane with undisguised zeal, they now have one of their own playing right in front of them on a nightly basis.

Williamsville, N.Y., product Justin Bailey is one of seven area natives to play for the Sabres. And though he didn’t score his first NHL goal at home, he did record his accomplishment in his home state.

Playing in his fourth game of the season — and 12th of his career — Bailey entered the ranks of NHL scorers at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Early in the second period of a game Buffalo was already leading 2-0, Bailey intercepted a soft cross-ice pass by Ranger defenseman Kevin Klein just inside the New York blue line. Bailey then bolted toward the Rangers net, but Klein recovered quickly and cut him off. Bailey, however, swerved neatly around him at the inside edge of the left circle and Klein slid right by him on his backside.

Klein tripped him up a bit, however, on his slide-by, so by the time Bailey released his shot he too was on his way down to the ice. But he got plenty on it and beat Henrik Lundqvist through the five-hole.

The spontaneity of his celebration was somewhat curtailed from being face-down on the ice when the red light went on, but Bailey quickly popped up to his feet. In his excitement to throw his arms up, his stick nearly sliced off a corner of Lundvist’s crease. But it was a youthful indiscretion and get-out-of-jail cards are freely distributed on etiquette infractions created by scoring your first NHL goal.

1/3/2017 vs. Rangers

ALEXANDER EDLER, CANUCKS — MILESTONE

2017-04-10T01:54:17+00:00 April 10th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Goal Box|

ALEXANDER EDLER, Canucks
MILESTONE
  • Wrist Shot
  • Door Step
  • Goaltender Pulled for Extra Skater
  • Final Minute
  • Third Period

The players remaining on the Vancouver roster from the Canucks Stanley Cup final team of 2011 has dwindled to the Sedins and Alexander Edler now that Alex Burrows is in Ottawa. Naturally both Sedins were on the ice when Edler scored for his 300th career point, at Rogers Arena against the Oilers. It was the second time this season Edler had scored after the goaltender was pulled for an extra skater in the waning moments of the third period.

With Vancouver trailing 3-1, Edler had no reason to protect the blue line and stationed himself by the side of the net. When the puck made it to the goal mouth, Edler was in position to swat it home, just off the right corner of the crease.

It was the sixth goal of the season for Edler, who has been remarkably consistent through the years with his goal contributions. Going back to the 2007-08 season, his first full year in the NHL, the Swedish defenseman has never scored fewer than five or more than 11 goals in a season. And for the last five years, Edler’s performance has especially plateaued, always scoring between six and eight goals over that span, with just about half coming on the power play.

4/8/2017 vs. Edmonton.
Highlight available at NHL.com.

DANIEL O’REGAN, SHARKS — FIRST NHL GOAL

2017-04-09T21:50:55+00:00 April 9th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

DANIEL O’REGAN, Sharks
FIRST NHL GOAL

With the Sharks playing nothing more than a tune-up game for the playoffs, they relied on a lineup filled with depth players and rookies in their final game of the year against Calgary. This situation was very much to the advantage of Daniel O’Regan, who scored his first NHL goal in this third game.

O’Regan can be forgiven if in later years he has a foggy recollection of his breakthrough goal. It may have even felt a little intangible to him as he was skating back to the bench before the next faceoff.

With San Jose leading 2-1 in the latter stages of the third period, O’Regan was given a chance to join the Sharks power play unit.

Setting up his big frame in front of the Flames net, O’Regan deflected home a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot from above the left circle, near the side boards. Only, it wasn’t quite that simple.

En route to O’Regan the puck was tipped by Calgary defenseman Dennis Wideman. O’Regan then turned his focus to goaltender David Rittich, anticipating a rebound. But fortunately he left his stick in its original position.

Though Wideman had deflected the puck, he didn’t alter its course much and O’Regan had himself a no-look goal, as the puck nipped his blade and then found its way behind Rittich.

O’Regan’s reaction kind of suggested that this wasn’t the way he’d always dreamed he’d score his first goal. Instinctively he wanted to raise his arms high, but thought better of it, indicating that either he felt a little sheepish about getting too excited about scoring his big goal this way or, perhaps, he didn’t want to upstage Vlasic, who had every reason to believe the goal was his.

The confusion was evident in the post-goal huddle as the five Sharks really didn’t have a good idea who to focus their attention on.

But chances are good that when O’Regan settles in for the off-season, he’ll be very glad to have his first NHL goal already behind him.

Advance to the 3:22 mark of this clip to see O’Regan’s first NHL goal.

1/7/2017 vs. Detroit

LEE STEMPNIAK, HURRICANES — MILESTONE

2017-04-05T23:48:15+00:00 April 5th, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Goal Box|

LEE STEMPNIAK, Hurricanes
MILESTONE
  • Wrist Shot
  • One-Timer
  • Right Circle (Lower, Inside Dot)
  • First Period

It might be a bit premature to say that Lee Stempniak has found a home in Carolina, but after scoring his 200th career goal last night, Stempniak achieved a goal total he’s topped just twice in his 12-year career.

The last time the West Seneca, N.Y. native topped the 16 goals he’s put home this year was in the 2010-11 season. But that’s also the last time Stempniak played a full season’s worth of games. In fact, with two more points, Stempniak will have topped all his previous seasons for individual scoring since his sophomore campaign of 2006-07 with the Blues, when he had 27 goals and 25 assists. Presently he has 24 assists to go with his 16 goals. One more assist and he’ll tie his career best, established three times previously.

On his 200th career goal, he got a stride behind the Minnesota defense on the right wing and converted a Jeff Skinner cross-ice pass with a quick wrist shot past goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

The old pro reacted much as he would on any other goal, raising both arms in the air and turning toward his teammates who greeted the veteran without any recognition that he’d landed on a significant number.

But his achievements have gone under the radar ever since entering the NHL as a 5th round pick by the Blues in the 2003 entry draft. Someone always wants him and he doesn’t stay in one place very long. The Hurricanes are his 10th NHL team and the seventh Stempniak has played for in the last four years.

Twelve years in the NHL speaks for itself. And so too, now, do 200 goals.

4/4/2017 vs. Minnesota.
Highlight available at NHL.com.

JOHNNY GAUDREAU, FLAMES — RACE YA TO THE FAR POST!

2017-03-31T14:20:36+00:00 March 31st, 2017|Exclude From Main Feed, Featured Goal Box, Goal Box|

JOHNNY GAUDREAU, Flames
RACE YA TO THE FAR POST!

Johnny Hockey played Johnny Hide ‘n’ Seek against Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard and at the completion of his ruse, the puck was home free.

Gaudreau reached into his bag of tricks to execute — accent on cute — a fakeout of Pickard that will have all NHL goaltenders on alert forever more if they see this clip.

With Pickard off to the side of the net after making a save on a low-one timer, Gaudreau collected the rebound and saw everything sealed up by Pickard. So he made a mad dash behind the net, daring Pickard to get over to the other post before he could tuck the puck inside the far post.

Pickard had no choice but to accept the challenge. Gaudreau got halfway behind the cage and then abruptly reversed course. Pickard could only hear what was going on, as he was sliding to the other side of the crease. Realizing what was about to happen, the Colorado goaltender tried to shift his weight back in order to trace Gaudreau’s movements.

But goalie skates and 40 pounds of equipment put him at a distinct disadvantage. While Gadreau was sneaking back inside the unlocked door, Pickard was waiting for — ahem — Gaudreau to come out the other side. Outfoxed, Pickard had to rely on muscle-memory and wound up in a largely useless butterfly in front of the goal.

In the meantime, the right post was left unattended and Gaudreau slipped the puck into the vacant net.

1/4/2017 vs. Colorado