How badly did Calgary Flames winger Milan Lucic want that first goal?
He practically campaigned for it.
The drama that unfolded after his long shot banked in off a body in front before settling in the net behind San Jose Sharks goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen was as interesting as the puck’s path.
It fluttered high off Lucic’s stick and pinballed off Sharks defenceman Erik Karlsson. Never touched Calgary Flames teammate Trevor Lewis.
Lucic says he wasn’t worried about that, though. Whether he or Lewis scored the second in a 5-2 win over the Sharks was irrelevant to him. He was more concerned that it counted, thinking the refs were suggesting goaltender interference might wipe out the goal.
He’d scored once before this season, you see. But an offside review negated the only other puck he had put past a goaltender outside of practice.
“When the ref was saying ‘22, 22,’ I thought he was saying goaltending interference (on Lewis) and thought, ‘here we go,' " Lucic said on the Sportsnet post-game broadcast.
"It's obviously good to contribute offensively, but the main thing is getting a big win here to start off the road trip,” he added later in his post-game media chat. “This is a huge time of year for us — a huge road trip for us before the Christmas break starts — and we wanted to make sure we brought one of our best road games here tonight.
“Nice to contribute, especially when it's a 1-1 game to get that go-ahead goal and win that game.”
Things haven’t been easy for Lucic. He’s a locker-room leader who prides himself on ensuring his teammates are ready to go at puck drop. He might have lost sight of that a little from the frustration of a lengthy goal drought.
"You want to contribute. Even if your role changes, you still play the right way and play your role, but you still want to chip in when you can,” Lucic said.
“Whether you dislike or disagree with decisions that the coaches make, you have to respect them and learn from them. You take the positives out of it, reflect on it and when you get your chance to get back in the lineup, do you do what you can to be effective. That's been the mindset the last two games.”
Lucic scoring does a lot for a team that embraces the grinders and role-players.
"It was awesome. He's a big part of our group and it's never fun when you can't put one in the net,” Lewis said of his linemate. “He's had lots of chances and it only takes one. Hopefully the floodgates start opening for him here. But yeah, it was awesome to see him score here."
Calgary Flames head coach noted it in his post-game availability, too, saying it was “good to see Looch score.”
Asked to expand on it and what that goal might do for Lucic going forward, he added: “Hopefully he can score a goal and get a hit in the first period (on Tuesday).”