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Hishon's First Goal, Celebration Memorable

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

A player's first goal in the NHL is a moment he will remember for the rest of his life. The celebration after Colorado Avalanche center Joey Hishon's first tally was also pretty memorable.

Hishon's goal came on a play that young hockey players likely fantasize about: grabbing a loose puck and driving into the opponent's zone before firing a perfect shot that ends up as the game-winner.

Sounds like a dream come true.

"I don't know if it had sunk in yet," Hishon said of the feeling on the ice after scoring Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators. "My adrenaline was pumping for the rest of the game there. I was trying not to smile. We got the win now so I'm allowed to smile I think."

Hishon's goal held up as the winning score in the Avalanche's 3-2 victory over the Predators at Pepsi Center.

After seeing the puck hit the back of the net, the moments after were a blur for the No. 17 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft—though he did skate to the left wing wall and jump into the boards.

However, he certainly recalls the post-goal celebration with his teammates

As Hishon was receiving fist bumps along the Avs bench, captain Gabriel Landeskog tossed water from a full water bottle in the center's face, much like how a baseball player gets surprised with a pie or shaving cream after hitting a walk-off home run.

"I think it was a full water bottle right in the mouth. I couldn't breathe," Hishon said with a smile. "That was pretty funny for them to joke around and to have them happy for me as well. It's a great feeling."

"I got him good there," Landeskog said with a laugh. "He was yelling and screaming as he came by the bench, and I think I got 16 ounces of water in his mouth. It was fun."

The 23-year-old's goal came after Marc-Andre Cliche forced a turnover in the neutral zone. Hishon picked up the loose puck at center ice, skated toward the Preds' end and fired a wrist shot from the slot. The puck sailed far side, just past the stretched blocker of Pekka Rinne and into the back of the net at 7:06 of the third period.

Tallying the game-winner against one of the best goalies in the NHL this season? Not too shabby for a first goal.

"It's really cool. I don't think it has sunk in at all," Hishon said. "It was a lot of fun. For that to come in a win, that's huge."

First NHL goals aren't always pretty. Just look at the first tallies of Landeskog or Freddie Hamilton and you'll see scores that resulted from hard working shifts and deflections in front of the net.

However, Hishon's was a thing of beauty.

"It's nice to see a goal like that. It's one of the nicest first goals I've ever seen," said Ryan O'Reilly, who lives near Hishon in Ontario and often trains with him in the offseason. "A great strip, he went down, a couple great stickhandles and he put it home. Big congrats to him. It's well deserved."

The past few years have been a tough go for the forward after his career was put on hold because of a head injury during the 2011 Memorial Cup. He missed 22 months with post-concussion symptoms, but he worked hard to get back on the ice and finally made his professional debut in 2013 with the Lake Erie Monsters. He broke into the NHL with the Avalanche in the team's playoff run last season and played in his 11th regular-season game with the club on Tuesday after being called up on March 2.

"He's a great kid. It's been a lot of fun to have him around this year," Landeskog said. "We know he has put a lot of hard work in, and obviously he has had a few rough years with injuries and whatnot. But he's worked hard, and I think for every game he plays, he is getting more and more comfortable, making plays out there and tonight, a great goal."

Head coach Patrick Roy has taken notice of Hishon's recent play and has given him more responsibility. The Stratford, Ontario native has seen increased power play time the past few games, and he took several key faceoffs in Colorado's zone against Nashville.

Roy even moved the rookie from his usual fourth line center role to the third line after Dennis Everberg left in the second period of Tuesday contest because of a shoulder injury.

"I thought he had a great game," Roy said of Hishon. "He was solid on faceoffs. He took advantage of the situation when Dennis got hurt. I thought he played really well. His play defensively certainly encouraged me to play him out there, and I trust him. He even had some faceoffs in our own zone. I was very comfortable."

Hishon understands the expectation that Roy has for him and knows he needs to keep proving himself.

"My role is to just bring a steady work ethic and work as hard as I can every single day. Whatever Patty asks of me, that is what I have to do," Hishon said. "Earn as much trust as I possibly can, and hopefully that will let me play more and more minutes and show him that I can play in this league. That is what I have to do. I have to work hard every single day. Tomorrow is a new day, and I have to keep working."

He'll get another opportunity to show what he can do on Thursday as the Avs continue their final homestand against the Winnipeg Jets. Roy said he plans on giving Hishon more minutes and a larger role in the Avalanche's final two games of the regular season.

QUICK GOALS TIE FRANCHISE RECORD

Down by one goal in the second period, it only took nine seconds for the Avalanche to change the momentum and flip the score to its side.

Jarome Iginla and Ryan O’Reilly scored at 15:32 and 15:41, respectively, to give Colorado a 2-1 lead and tie the franchise record for the fastest two goals scored.

"When you get two like that, you feel the sense of confidence on the bench and obviously it is fun to score second when the crowd hasn't quieted down after the first one," said Landeskog, who assisted on O'Reilly's 17th goal of the season. "That was certainly key for us, to not just roll over and give up. For us, just keep going and getting those two [goals] were big."

Colorado has scored twice in nine seconds three times previously in the franchise's history, including once already this season on tallies from Cody McLeod (2:54) and Matt Duchene (3:03) in the first period on Feb. 16 versus Arizona.

The Avs also accomplished the feat on Oct. 17, 1997 at Calgary and on Jan. 23, 2002 at Edmonton.

ANOTHER INJURY FOR THE AVS

The Avalanche set a franchise record for the most man-games lost in a season on Tuesday night, and that total will continue to rise as Dennis Everberg will likely miss the remainder of the season after hurting his shoulder against Nashville.

Everberg left after his first shift in the second period and didn't return to the game. Roy said after the contest that the Swedish winger would probably miss the final two games of the year, Thursday versus Winnipeg and Saturday versus Chicago.

Colorado now has 478 man-games lost this season due to injury, surpassing the old franchise record of 474 set in 2010-11. Only Columbus (499) has been struck by the injury bug more in the 2014-15 campaign.

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