Wild rookie Brandon Duhaime has been the butt of his fair share of jokes in the locker room over the past week or so. And with good reason.
Ahead of his NHL debut last week, Duhaime stepped on a puck during the usual rookie game and walked tumbling on the ice. Although he quickly managed to show up before any of his teammates came out of the tunnel, Duhaime eventually owned up to his misfortune, which got a good amount of ribs on the bench.
Unfortunately for Duhaime, he gave his teammates more ammunition over the weekend. Fortunately for Duhaime, he scored the first goal of his NHL career in the process.
Early in Saturday’s match against the Anaheim Ducks at the Xcel Energy Center, 24-year-old Duhaime got his stick knocked out of his hands while fighting for position in front of the net. He instinctively reached down to pick it up, and as luck would have it, he ended up putting the puck in the back of the net.
With his skate. Without even knowing it.
“Yes,” Duhaime said with a laugh. “The stick was knocked out of my hands and then turned over and the puck went at my feet into the net.”
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How did it happen? When Duhaime came down to pick up his stick, center Nico Sturm fired a shot that deflected far out into the net. Or it would have been if Duhaime’s skate was not in the right place at the right time.
“I think I was blacked out,” Duhaime said. “Just looked in the net and it was there. Then everyone started coming to me. ”
While it will go down as a milestone moment for Duhaime, it will certainly not go down as the most beautiful goal of his career. Maybe the literal opposite.
“It’s the ugliest first goal I’ve ever seen,” coach Dean Evason said.
“They only get more beautiful from here,” added center Ryan Hartman.
Not surprisingly, Duhaime was a good sport about it. It helped that Wild went away with a 4-3 overtime win.
“They do not ask how. They just asked how many, ”Duhaime said. “Of course I wanted to go coast to coast and score my first goal. But I take it. ”
More important for Duhaime, he has influence night in and night out, plays with Sturm and against Nick Bjugstad. That explains why Evason has continued to play that line in any situation without hesitation.
“You have to do things to build that trust, and he has that,” Evason said. “That line was good. We did not get them as much as we should and it is on me. It is up to us to get them involved a little more. ”
Wild goalkeeper Cape Kahkonen made his season debut against the Nashville Predators Sunday night at the Xcel Energy Center with the usual starter Cam Talbot get free at night.
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