Matt Nieto has seen his fair share of ups and downs through his first five seasons in the NHL, but he's still living the dream that a young kid from Southern California had nearly 20 years ago.
He's tried to stay in the present through it all, including on Wednesday night when he recorded his 100th career point.
Nieto capped off the Colorado Avalanche's four-goal second period with his 11th tally of the season, helping the team come from behind and defeat the Calgary Flames 5-2 at Pepsi Center. He now has 46 goals and 54 assists in 319 NHL contests.
"It's a good feeling," he said of hitting the century mark in scoring. "When I was a kid, I never saw this day coming, even playing in the NHL. It is definitely a special moment."
The goal also established a new career high for a season, as Nieto's previous best was 10 markers while a member of the San Jose Sharks in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Video: Matt Nieto after registering his 100th NHL point
The Long Beach, California, native was San Jose's first pick at No. 47 overall in the 2011 draft and played his first three-plus seasons with the Sharks before the Avalanche claimed him off waivers on Jan. 7, 2017.
He has 30 points (18 goals and 12 assists) in 98 total games with Colorado and has carved out a role for himself this season on the team's third line with center Carl Soderberg and fellow wing Blake Comeau.
"It's nice to have a steady line. I've been with Combs and Sods for quite a while now," said the 25-year-old. "We've figured each other out. We all know our roles on the team. I just have fun with those two every day, and hopefully down the stretch here we can keep getting more."
The trio has been one of the Avs' most consistent during the campaign, and they helped contribute two goals versus the Flames, with Nieto's coming from some slick passing between the linemates.
"It was a nice breakout pass by Combs to find me in the middle," Nieto recalled of the start of the scoring sequence. "I kicked it out to Carl. It wasn't much there other than for me to drive to the net. He made a great pass, sauced it right to my tape, and I was able to tap it in."
Video: CGY@COL: Nieto extends lead, earns 100th NHL point
Colorado's four goals in the second frame are tied for the most in a period this season, a feat the squad has now done five times.
The consecutive tallies quickly erased a two-goal deficit the Avs were facing early in the stanza. Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Zadorov started the run by scoring from near identical spots at the left circle 1:08 apart in the middle of the frame, and Tyson Barrie added another roughly three minutes later.
"I think we realized that they were on the tail end of a back-to-back, and as the game wore on that they would get more and more tired," Nieto said of Colorado's mindset in the second period. "We just tried to wear them down more and kind of throw everything to the net, and it worked out for us."
The win was a little payback for the Avs after they lost 5-1 at the Flames on Saturday and gave them an advantage in the standings. While Colorado and Calgary are both one point out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 73 points, the Avalanche holds the first two tiebreakers with two games in hand and more regulation and overtime wins (33-30).
The Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are presently tied for the last playoff spot with 74 points, but the Ducks have the slight edge having played fewer contests so far (64-65)
SIEMENS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Once again, Duncan Siemens made the most of his opportunity and showed his defensive and offensive prowess against the Calgary Flames.
The Avalanche rookie recorded his first NHL fight and then scored his first goal in the team's comeback victory.
Siemens' first big moment came with 5:51 left the first frame when he dropped the gloves with Calgary's Tanner Glass, seconds after Glass hammered Siemens hard into the end wall.
"I'm not going to back down. I don't care who it is for the most part," Siemens said. "I just thought I was being taken advantage of, so I just figured I would standup for myself and there it went."
Video: Duncan Siemens after scoring his first NHL goal
He closed the night by scoring an empty-net goal with 17 seconds remaining in regulation. He sent a long, but perfect, shot from the defensive zone that went right into the middle of the gapping cage.
"It's one of those things that I'll take them any way I can get them," Siemens said of the goal. "It definitely feels nice to get that first one out of the way and get that monkey off the back early."
Video: CGY@COL: Siemens pots first NHL goal into empty net
Siemens was also called for a cross-checking penalty in the third period to bring his penalty-minute total for the season to 21, all of which have come against the Flames. He had 14 penalty minutes and picked up his first NHL point with an assist in the Avs' matchup on Saturday in Calgary.
Siemens has played in each of the last five games for Colorado since being called up from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League on Feb. 19. He has 31 points (five goals and 26 assists) and 341 penalty minutes in 274 career AHL contests.
For the 21st time this season, Nathan MacKinnon recorded multiple points in a game as he had a goal and an assist versus Calgary. It is the most multi-point outings for an Avalanche player since Matt Duchene had 21 during the 2013-14 campaign.
MacKinnon's power-play tally in the second period helped begin a run of five unanswered by Colorado, including four in the middle frame. It was his team-high 10th man-advantage goal of 2017-18.
He's now tied for seventh in NHL scoring with 71 points (29 goals and 42 assists), which is the most by an Avs player since Paul Stastny recorded 79 in 2009-10.
Video: CGY@COL: MacKinnon nets strong wrister for PPG
O (NO MORE) CANADA
The Avalanche played its last game against a Canadian team on Wednesday and wrapped up a stretch that saw it play eight in a row against clubs from north of the border.
Colorado finished the eight-game set with a 4-3-1 record. The Avs played five of the seven Canadian clubs during the stretch, as they had already completed their season series versus the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Avalanche finished 9-7-3 overall versus the seven Canada squads in 2017-18.
Video: Bednar after the Avs' 5-2 win versus the Flames