GLENDALE – Defenseman Connor Murphy had a very long day on Saturday but he’s not complaining and he’ll never forget it.
Murphy, who arrived in Phoenix from Portland, Maine, just after midnight on Saturday morning, scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game later in the day as Phoenix beat Tampa Bay at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes selected Murphy with the 20th overall pick in the 2011 Draft. Prior to Saturday, he was playing his first pro season with the team’s top affiliate in the American Hockey League – the Portland Pirates.
“It was great to be able to get that (goal),” Murphy said. “I haven’t scored all year (in the AHL)… hopefully more will come.”
Murphy’s goal, which he scored via a slap shot from the right point on Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback in the second period, turned out to be the game-winning goal in Phoenix’s 6-3 win. Murphy’s parents, who flew to Phoenix on short notice Saturday, were present at the arena.
“They’re the reason I’m here,” Murphy said, when asked how it felt to have his parents witness his first professional game and goal. “It’s just great to have them here to enjoy the moment. … Like I said, I wouldn’t be here with out all of the support they’ve given me and love. I’m just happy they could watch the game.”
Murphy played 22:32 in his NHL debut. He scored his goal on his only shot of the game. He also delivered a team-high five hits, blocked a shot and was named the No. 2 Star of the Game.
Murphy is sixth defenseman in franchise history to score a goal in his NHL debut with the team and the first Coyotes defensemen to do it since Keith Ballard did so on Oct. 5, 2005.