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Halischuk happy to get on the board

Saturday, 11.14.2009 / 11:42 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Matt Halischuk surely knew he had to celebrate, but how?

He has scored big goals before, including one in overtime that clinched a gold medal for Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championship. But that was in the Czech Republic and this was in New Jersey, in the NHL.

It was a first for the kid from Toronto, a different dream come true.

"I didn't really know what to do out there," Halischuk said.

His teammates did.

After Halischuk scored with 55.3 seconds left in the second period Saturday night, a goal that gave the Devils a 4-2 lead en route to a 5-2 victory, he was mobbed by his linemates and captain Jamie Langenbrunner grabbed the puck for Halischuk to keep forever.

When the P.A. announcer said it was Halischuk's first NHL goal, the 16,251 in the building roared for him. Halischuk was grinning on the bench. Most of the Devils were, too.

"I was really happy for him, especially that it was the three kids (Halischuk, Tim Sestito and Niclas Bergfors) playing together and they moved the puck well and they got a goal," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. "That was neat. That was fun. I think all the guys on the bench liked it, too."

Lost in the hoopla surrounding Halischuk's moment was the fact that Sestito, who got the secondary assist on the goal, picked up his first career NHL point in just his fifth game, and fourth with the Devils this season.

"I'm excited to get that first point and hopefully the first goal comes soon," Sestito told NHL.com. "The first couple of games you can play well and provide energy, but I think you always want to produce. You want to help the team win. I didn't have a huge part in that goal, it was just a breakout to Bergie and he and Hali did most of the work, but I'm really happy to be on the scoresheet."

The goal was a true beauty.

Bryce Salvador got the puck up to Sestito, who started forward and with the help of Bergfors and Halischuk, created a 3-on-2.

"It was a great pass by Sal out of the zone," Sestito said. "He just hit me right in the middle."

Sestito got the puck wide left to Bergfors and then put his head down and bolted toward the net. Bergfors got to the top of the left circle before sliding a perfect pass across the ice to Halischuk, who was breaking in down the right side.

Halischuk got inside the right circle and just before he got to the faceoff dot he rifled a high and hard shot to Jose Theodore's short side. Halischuk said he was trying to go high and he wanted to get the shot off quick because he saw Theodore coming across the crease.

"It happens pretty quick, but we've been practicing plays like that a lot and obviously it was a perfect pass from Niclas there so I just tried to get it off as hard and quick as I could," Halischuk said. "Luckily it worked out."

It looked like a 3-on-2 goal they would score in practice, except for the high and hard shot. Goalies wouldn't like that.
"It happens pretty quick, but we've been practicing plays like that a lot and obviously it was a perfect pass from Niclas there so I just tried to get it off as hard and quick as I could.  Luckily it worked out." -- Matt Halischuk

"It's obviously a bit more intense I guess, but it just kind of fell into place," Halischuk said. "It was a great play by my linemates. It's pretty special. I kind of just took a step back and it was a pretty nice feeling."

Zach Parise, the Devils leading goal scorer, thinks it's only the beginning of what we could see from Halischuk in the NHL.

"Everyone remembers their first goal and not many are going to be prettier than that one," Parise said. "I mean, that was a great shot. He's going to be a really good player in this League. He has done a lot of good things and hasn't gotten rewarded on the stat sheet. That's big for us when he's able to contribute. He's going to be a good player."

Halischuk also got some high praise from a future Hall of Famer.

"I was telling Patrik (Elias) that his first was off a skate and in and they went for a review," goalie Martrin Brodeur said. "With him, it was a really nice goal, off the crossbar in a tight game. I could have given him his game-winner, but nah."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com



Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning
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