Talk about making an immediate impact.
On just his seventh shift in an Avalanche uniform, forward Greg Mauldin
scored a short-handed goal during the second period of Friday night’s 5-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It was a sweet moment for Mauldin, who netted his first National Hockey League tally against the team with which he began his professional career. Mauldin was originally a seventh-round selection of the Blue Jackets in the 2003 Entry Draft.
Recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters on Thursday in the wake of recent injuries to forwards T.J. Galiardi and David Van Der Gulik
, Mauldin played on the Avalanche’s fourth line during his debut alongside Philippe Dupuis and Cody McLeod
. He also saw some time on the penalty kill, which is where he made his biggest contribution Friday night.
With Kevin Porter
serving a two-minute penalty for interference, Mauldin found himself on a 2-on-1 rush with David Jones
after Columbus forward Jakub Voracek missed the net with a shot and the puck circled hard around the boards and out of the zone. Jones was the first one to the loose puck, eventually threading a nice pass to Mauldin in the slot. From there, Mauldin beat Columbus netminder Steve Mason with a high wrister.
“I knew I was going to come in and play a fourth line role,” said Mauldin. “I just wanted to come in and use my energy and speed as much as possible. If I contribute, I contribute, and it just so happens I was able to.”
Avalanche fans may not be too familiar with Mauldin, who was signed as a free agent on July 2, 2010. The Boston native spent three years playing collegiately at UMass-Lowell before turning pro at the end of the 2003-04 campaign. That season, he made his NHL debut by playing in six games with Columbus.
However, he would go the next five seasons without playing in an NHL game, instead spending time in the AHL, UHL and Sweden.
During the 2009-10 campaign, Mauldin led the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers in scoring with 54 points (25g/29a) in 77 games and also saw one game of NHL action with the New York Islanders, suiting up for a late-season contest against Pittsburgh.
Looking for a better shot at perhaps spending more time in the NHL, Mauldin signed on with the Avalanche during the offseason and impressed Colorado’s brass during training camp before being assigned to the Lake Erie Monsters.
With Lake Erie, Mauldin had served as the team’s captain recently and was leading the club with 12 points (5g/7a) in 14 games before being recalled and netting his first NHL goal on Friday.
“It felt great. I always imagined what it would be like, and it didn’t let me down,” Mauldin said of his first goal. “I can’t really describe it. I had to get back to the bench to calm down because I was so excited”
With the tally, he also became the fourth player Avalanche player to record his first NHL goal in the last five games. David Liffiton
netted his first career goal on Oct. 30 against Columbus, David Van Der Gulik
took his turn on Nov. 4 against Vancouver and Philippe Dupuis recorded his first tally (also short-handed) on Nov. 6 versus Dallas.
Mauldin’s final stat line included a +1 plus/minus rating, two shots on goal and three hits in 9:06 of ice time.