Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins notched 31 saves to help lead his team to a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Monday, but a pregame insult from a Dallas fan was still on his mind following the victory.
Per The Athletic , Merzlikins said that a fan wearing a Stars sweater taunted him before the game about the offseason death of his friend and former teammate, Matiss Kivlenieks, who died following a Fourth of July fireworks accident.
"I was expecting a shutout, because I believe in karma," the netminder said. "There are some stupid people in this world. It was really bad what happened in the tunnel when I was walking out. There was a fan from Dallas who (provoked) me about Matiss."
Merzlikins said he didn't respond to the fan and that "stupid people don't come into my head."
Following the fireworks incident, Merzlikins credited his fallen teammate as a "hero" for saving him and his pregnant wife. The 27-year-old goalie has said he's been extra motivated to play well in honor of Kivlenieks this season and plans to win the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL's best goalie, for him.
Following Monday's win, the Blue Jackets are now 4-2-0, with Merzlikins holding a 4-0-0 record. The Latvian has stopped 120 of the 126 shots that he's faced, which is good for a .952 save percentage.