Nothing is more exciting for a rookie in the National Hockey League than scoring his first goal.
Whether it be a pretty play with a little stick magic or a mere redirection in front of the net -- or even an ugly "how did that happen?" marker off someone else -- he’ll take it.
Just ask Flyers defenseman Oliver Lauridsen.
The lanky 6-foot-6 Dane registered his first NHL goal a little past the midway point of Tuesday’s 5-2 rout of the Boston Bruins.
It became the game-winning goal.
“I was just told that,” the 24-year-old said. “That’s hockey for you right there, it’s a bounce here and a bounce there. A bounce went mine and the team’s way and end up being the G-dub [game winner]. I’ll take it, take it for a win.”
His goal was one of the ugliest of a rather ugly season for the Flyers. Lauridsen merely dumped the puck behind the net to set up the Flyers’ forecheck.
Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, retrieved it for the Bruins and quickly tried to outlet it diagonally through the crease, a no-no in hockey, especially for a veteran like Chara.
The puck slid through the goal crease off goalie Anton Khudobin’s stick and into the net and Khudobin threw a temper tantrum on the ice.
Since Lauridsen was the last Flyer to touch it, that’s his goal.
“I was trying to push it behind,” Chara said. “The puck was stuck on the board. Tried to, you know, flip behind the net to my D partner and just took a weird bounce.”
Asked whether he ticked him off that his first goal came under those circumstances, he replied, “Why would I be [ticked]? I just scored a goal! In 20 years or a week from now no one is going to ask me how that went in.
“It’s a bounce; it wasn’t a well-calculated snipe or anything," he said. "It’s not much different from when you take a shot from the point and it hits three different shin pads and goes in. Hockey is a game of inches and bounce; you see it all the time.”
This kid has great answers. Answers like a veteran, not a rookie.
Tuesdsay was Lauridsen’s Lucky 13th NHL game, too. He was plus-3, which is a godsend, given he was minus-4 going in.
Since coming up from the Phantoms on March 29 after Braydon Coburn was felled by a shoulder separation, Lauridsen’s minutes have climbed steadily from 11 to an average of almost 20 a night.
The Flyers, who won’t be in the playoffs, have won three of their last four games with a patchwork defense, consisting of two rookies (himself and Brandon Manning) plus Erik Gustafsson, who has yet to play 60 NHL games.
“Yeah, we can call it that [patchwork],” Lauridsen agreed. “I really think the guys that are here right now are playing for pride and playing to show that they belong here. They put themselves in a good position for next season. We’ve had a few games, altogether, to play and even with new appearances we’ve built some chemistry. When you have new guys like that, you just try to keep things simple and move the puck to the forwards really fast.
“We also have to make sure we stay out of our own end for as much time as possible and it seems to work quite well.”
It also helps when goalie Steve Mason is in there. He plays the puck so well from behind the net, it really gives the Flyers a jump on the breakout.
“I have to give it to him,” Lauridsen said. “He surprised me a little bit with how well he handles the puck. By doing that, it gives the defensemen a bit more room to operate with, that way we don’t have to get the puck from behind the net.
“We just have to talk to him and let him know where we want the puck. If you saw the one play in the third period, he moved it like a true defensemen right through the middle; it dropped my jaw a bit.”
Those are little things right now, but they’re going mean a lot more next season to the Flyers.
And where’s that lucky first goal puck? Lauridsen wasn’t sure.
You don’t want to lose that. Even the dirty ones.
“It has to be around here somewhere I would think,” he said.
The Flyers collected $85,595 in their 50/50 raffle that benefited Boston on Tuesday night.
That is the largest jackpot on a 50/50 ever collected in the United States. Late Tuesday, the Flyers cut a check for more than $44,000 which goes to OneFundBoston.org.
The check was presented by Flyers president Peter Luukko and general manager Paul Holmgren to Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and club president Cam Neely.
After consulting with Elias and pulling the game sheet, the two Flyers' goals that came seven seconds apart against Boston tied a franchise record done twice before.
The Jan. 19, 1985, game that Elias found turned out to be two goals that were actually scored 1:06 apart as opposed to six seconds. The mistake was in the handwriting on the original game sheets.
So, last night’s goals join with the other two occasions: Dec. 2, 1986 against St. Louis (Dave Brown 5:26 of third period; Brian Propp, 5:33 of third period) and Dec. 27, 1988 against Washington (Moe Mantha, 17:58 of first period; Ron Sutter, 18:05 of first period).