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Bemstrom excited to score first career NHL goal

Rookie's power-play goal helped Blue Jackets beat Arizona

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

If it were up to Emil Bemstrom, he probably would have scored his first career NHL goal on his first career NHL shift. In a perfect world, he would have entered his 16th career game Thursday night at Arizona with a goal in every game. 

Of course, the world isn't perfect, so the 20-year-old rookie from Sweden went 15 games without a goal in his NHL career. For someone who scored 23 times a season ago while leading his home country's top league in goals, the goal-less start might as well have felt like a slog through the desert with an empty water bottle.

But he found his oasis in, well, the desert. Bemstrom's power-play goal late in the second period was not only his first NHL goal, it was a huge tally in what would become a 3-2 victory for the Blue Jackets over the Coyotes. 

"I've been waiting for this for 15 games," he said with a fair bit of relief in the locker room post game. "It's been frustrating, but I did it. I'm happy about that." 

Video: CBJ@ARI: Bemstrom nets PPG for first NHL goal

And it should be the first of many for Bemstrom, who showed a year ago he can put the biscuit in the basket. His 23 goals for Djurgårdens IF were the third-most ever for a teenage in the Swedish Hockey League, and leading the league was an accomplishment that put him among the ranks of the best to ever play from his home country. 

It was a tough transition, though, to the NHL level through the first 10 games. Slowly but surely, though, he's found himself, and the confidence was noticeably growing the more he played. Finally, over the past few games, he's started to show the form that made him a standout in his home country. 

"He has a great shot, he sees the ice well," said Oliver Bjorkstrand, who netted the game winner. "He has a bright future. He looks good out there, so I'm sure it's nice for him to get that first one. Now he has to keep it rolling and try to get more." 

The first one might not have been a goal scorer's goal, or the trademark one-timer that he became so good at blasting home from the left dot a season ago in Sweden, but it counted the same. He took a cross-ice pass from Cam Atkinson on the power play and had plenty of space, advancing on goalie Darcy Kuemper before unleashing a high shot that the netminder was able to fight off. 

But Bemstrom kept going, finding the puck behind the net and flipping it back off of Kuemper at the near post. From there, the puck ricocheted off the goalie and found its way just across the line in the back of the net. 

Bemstrom pumped his fist at the goal and was quickly surrounded by smiling teammates. On the bench, every Blue Jackets player rose to his feet, with captain Nick Foligno raising both arms to the sky and pumping his fists for the goal.  

"I can see the bench, I heard them on the other end," goalie Joonas Korpisalo said. "I'm really happy for him. He's a goal scorer. I think it's going to be really good for him to get going. He's a great player, a really good shot, and he knows how to put the puck in the net." 

Bemstrom said the puck -- which was retrieved immediately by Seth Jones -- will go to his younger brother, Linus, who has supported him throughout his career to this point. He also hopes to keep earning power-play time after being put back on the man advantage earlier this week, and head coach John Tortorella said he wants to see the youngster keep it going now.  

"I hope it gives him some confidence," Tortorella said. "Goal scorers, when they score a goal, they just seem to relax after that. I thought he and (Alexandre Texier) had some good shifts with (Riley Nash). Hopefully getting that one out of the way and getting a little more power-play time will help him." 

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