UNIONDALE – Scott Gomez has scored 168 goals in his 12-year NHL career, but the one he scored on Thursday night was special. Just not for the reason most people would assume.
Heading into Thursday’s game in Uniondale, it had been 54 games and 368 days since Scott Gomez scored his last NHL goal. Not that he was counting. Finally lifting that sizeable gorilla off his back with a slap shot on the power play mid-way through the third period, the 32-year-old center couldn’t have been happier after the game. Although most of that had to do with the pair of points his team will be bringing with them when they leave Long Island.
“It’s good because we won. It’s nice to score. It’s been a long time so it’s a good feeling right now but the most important thing is we got the two points,” underlined Gomez, who now has 683 points in 889 career games. “We’re going to have to win every game. We just have to keep it going. Guys in here definitely believe. Our backs are against the wall here, but hey, why not make it interesting? It’s a great group of guys and we just have to keep winning.”
It’s no surprise to hear the two-time Stanley Cup champ put the team’s success ahead of his own. Fittingly, Gomez also chose exactly the right time to bust out of his year-long scoring slump, potting what proved to be the game-winning goal to vault the Habs to 11th in the Eastern Conference.
“I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. I’ve been blessed to play in the NHL. Obviously I want to score; I want to score more than you guys, trust me. I’d rather win,” shared the Anchorage, AK native. “I’m not going to shy away from that. You get addicted to winning. If you listen to other people, all of us probably wouldn’t be here. Montreal is a beautiful place and I heard some good ones, definitely, or at least that’s what people were telling me.”
Having endured a mixture of both sarcastic cheers and heartfelt boos from the Bell Centre faithful over the past few games, Gomez can likely expect a warmer response from the crowd when he returns on Tuesday night. But as his teammates have proven over the past few weeks, his harshest critics are also his biggest fans.
“Andrei [Kostitsyn] has been riding me. If you look at his face after the goal, it was almost embarrassing,” laughed Gomez of the playful ribbing he’s been getting from the Belarusian winger. “And [Carey] Price is the best goaltender in the world and I think he’s been letting me score. I owe a lot to Pricer – some of those shots I know aren’t going in. He’ll deny it, but I know. It’s a great group of guys and let’s just hope we won’t be waiting another year for that.”
As happy as Gomez was to notch the game-winner, no one in the building was celebrating the goal harder than his teammates.
“I hope they had the camera on the bench because I went nuts,” admitted Max Pacioretty, who scored his first career NHL hat trick against the Isles to round out the scoring for the Canadiens. “I think everyone did. It was a good goal and if he hadn’t scored that goal it would’ve been a tied game at the end. It was a huge goal; hopefully he’ll start pounding them in now.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers Game - Feb. 9, 2012