The Nashville Predators defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena in a game that saw defenseman Mattias Ekholm score his first career NHL goal.
With Nashville leading 1-0 in the second period, Ekholm directed the puck over the glass from Nashville’s defensive zone, resulting in a delay of game penalty and a San Jose power play.
At 6:49, San Jose’s Joe Pavelski redirected a Dan Boyle shot past Nashville goaltender to tie the game while Ekholm was in the box.
On the very next shift, however, Ekholm earned the goal back, putting the puck past Sharks netminder Antti Niemi.
“A puck-out penalty can happen to anyone, so it was nice to get that one back right away,” Ekholm said.
“It was kind of a broken play right off of the faceoff,” he continued. “I just skated around the net to try and get my forehand in there. He blocked it out and then I twisted around and got it back in the net. I thought Spaling tipped it in at first, but it was nice the shot went in.”
Ekholm’s first career goal came in his 32nd career game.
“It’s always a great moment to get your first goal,” Roman Josi said. “It was a nice one, too. He was really strong around the net and got a nice backhander. We are all happy for him to have his first one.”
David Legwand, who had the assist on Ekholm’s goal, also retrieved the puck.
“It’s nice to see everybody rewarded,” Legwand said. “Your first goal only happens once so it’s good to see.”
When Ekholm first entered the league two years ago, Barry Trotz was very openly critical of his play. However, with seasoning in Sweden and in the AHL, Ekholm has become the kind of player that Trotz likes to see.
“I thought it was a really strong play with Ekholm on his goal,” Trotz said. “They scored on a power play with him throwing the puck into the stands. He came out the next shift and he took command.”
The Predators and Sharks would swap another pair of goals for a 3-2 final, but for Ekholm, it will be a night that he will not soon forget.
“It is always special to score a goal in the National Hockey League,” Ekholm said. “I have always wanted to get it, but I don’t know if anxious is the right word. It is a special feeling to get my first goal.”
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua
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