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Robinson finally earns first NHL goal

Forward relieved after having numerous chances that just didn't go in last season

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

It was a moment Eric Robinson will never forget, even if the game didn't end the way the young Blue Jacket wanted it to. 

Robinson scored his first career NHL goal in Tuesday night's shootout loss to Montreal, and it was a tally that was three years in the making. 

After completing his college career at Princeton in 2017-18, Robinson signed with the Blue Jackets and played one game with the team. He returned last year for his first full professional season, spending much of it with AHL Cleveland, but he did become a lineup regular with the big club at one point and played in 13 games, still with no goals or points.  

It wasn't for a lack of trying -- Robinson had a number of high-quality scoring chances during his run of games -- but the puck just didn't go in the net for him. 

Finally, on Tuesday night, it did during Robinson's first NHL game of the season after being recalled Sunday. 

"It was a relief," he said. "It felt like it was never going to happen. To see one go in felt pretty good." 

Video: CBJ@MTL: Robinson taps home Bemstrom's feed

The goal came late in the first period of what would become a 3-2 loss. With the game scoreless, Robinson went to the slot and, when a shot rebounded to Emil Bemstrom low on the right side, took a pass from the CBJ rookie and quickly put a shot through Carey Price. 

Robinson punctuated the goal with a hearty fist pump before throwing a shoulder into the boards then being greeted by his teammates.  

"Great play by Bemmer there to find me," Robinson said. "It was just a good shift where we had good pressure there with (Seth Jones) and (Zach Werenski). I was lucky to get it on a good player by Bemmer." 

The line went on to have a solid game all around. In just over seven minutes of 5-on-5 play, the trio of Robinson, Bemstrom and veteran Riley Nash had a 9-3 edge in shot attempts and a 4-1 advantage in scoring chances per Natural Stat Trick. That all came despite the fact the trio was sent out for three defensive zone draws compared to just one in the offensive zone. Robinson also finished with three shots on goal.  

While Bemstrom continues to show he's getting comfortable in the North American game -- the 20-year-old now has points in three straight games -- Robinson added another dynamic to the lineup with his speed and quickness. It's one of the attributes that made him such an attractive player to the Blue Jackets when the New Jersey native finished his college career with a 17-goal season as Princeton's captain.  

"You have to play to your strengths especially when you get an opportunity," he said. "I think that's what I was trying to do out there. Speed is my strength, so every chance I can get I'm trying to use it." 

Robinson finished with 12 goals and 12 assists a season ago with Cleveland, then had three tallies and five points through his first 14 games this year with the Monsters.  

The first AHL goal is at his New Jersey home along with other milestones from his career like his first college goal and first goal in the United States Hockey League. The puck from Tuesday night will join those, but the 24-year-old Robinson obviously hopes it's the first of many in his time with the Blue Jackets.

He also hopes to be able to contribute to some wins in the future as well. 

"It's disappointing we didn't get the two points," he said. "That's where my head is at right now. I think the first goal is something in the future I can look back and appreciate." 

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