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Devils recall their first goals

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Parise celebrates his first NHL goal with Paul Martin on Oct. 5, 2005.

A player's first goal in the National Hockey League represents the end of one journey and the beginning of another. It's both the culmination of years of hard work to earn an NHL opportunity, as well as a statistical starting point in an NHL career.

The goal that Matt Halischuk scored in the second period [ Watch ] of Saturday's 5-2 win over Washington was one of a couple hundred the Devils will net this season. Halischuk, though, will always remember it as his first.

"Everyone remembers their first goal, and not many are going to be prettier than that one," Zach Parise said of Halischuk's tally. "That was a great shot. He's going to be a really good player in this League. He's done a lot of good things and hasn't gotten rewarded on the stat sheet, but you can really tell that he's been playing really well lately. That's big for us when he's able to contribute."

Jamie Langenbrunner said Halischuk's first goal was better than most.

"Couldn't ask for a better one," Langenbrunner said. "It was a good shot. Usually it's a sloppy one, but that was a great shot."

Some of the Devils' veterans had to have their memories jogged a bit to recall the details from their first goals, but we've compiled them here:

Niclas Bergfors – November 1, 2008 vs. Johan Hedberg (NJ 6 vs. ATL 1) Watch
"I remember it. I came from the corner; we had a good grind that shift. I came from the corner, tried to throw it on net, and it went in. It was home against Atlanta, and we won 6-1. Marty got hurt; that was the game. Zubie (Dainius Zubrus) was there, too, and I don’t know if it touched him or not, but I got the goal. That’s what I remember. Some people were definitely sure I got the goal, and some people thought he got the goal."

David Clarkson – March 17, 2007 vs. John Grahame (NJ 2 vs. CAR 7) Watch
"I was playing with Zach and Trav (Zajac) and I got a shot on net from below the circle, high-slot area, but low. I was trying to put it upstairs, fanned on it and it went in. It wasn't pretty. I scored my next goal on Eddie the Eagle (Florida's Ed Belfour). That was pretty cool."

Patrik Elias – December 12, 1996 vs. Bill Ranford (NJ 7 @ BOS 4)
"My first NHL goal was in Boston against Bill Ranford. It was a scrum; it was a forecheck in the offensive zone and the puck went to the boards. Bobby (Holik) went forechecking, Jay (Pandolfo) got it on the half-wall. I was driving to the net, and he threw it at me and off my skate. They went upstairs to review it, to see if it counted. That was my first NHL goal; I waited a little bit extra, but it counted."

Mark Fraser – October 24, 2009 vs. Marc-Andre Fleury (NJ 4 @ PIT 1)
"Not quite the way I drew it up. But I can say that I’m not too surprised it was a flukey one, either. It seems a lot of guys, their first one tends not to be the most perfect play, but I’ll definitely take it. Felt really good, and for myself, it definitely wasn’t something I was anticipating, but it helped take some of the nerves away."

Andy Greene – March 8, 2007 vs. Marc-Andre Fleury (NJ 4 @ PIT 3, So) Watch
"My first goal was the same as Fraser’s: against Fleury in Pittsburgh. On the power play, walked to the blueline and it went off the crossbar and in. I actually wasn’t quite sure if it went in or not, so it was kind of cool."

Head coach Jacques Lemaire – October 18, 1967 vs. Ed Giacomin (MTL 2 @ NYR 2)
"Ed Giacomin… Eddie. No mask. But my second goal on him, he had a mask. At the old Garden."

Jamie Langenbrunner – October 26, 1995 vs. Mikhail Shtalenkov (DAL 5 vs. ANH 2)
"Against Anaheim in '95. Somebody, I don't remember who, shot it, and it hit off the goalie was up in the air and I took a swing at it up in the air and it went in. Somebody grabbed it and gave it to the trainer; I got sent down a little bit later and I never saw the puck."

Mike Mottau – October 6, 2007 vs. Tomas Vokoun (NJ 4 @ FLA 1) Watch
"Zach came around the net and passed it to me up at the point in Florida. I held it, and the guy in front of me went down; I just wristed it through on Vokoun and it went off the post and in. Just a seeing-eye muffer. Won’t be what I tell the grandkids, though."

Rob Niedermayer – October 14, 1993 vs. Craig Billington (FLA 5 vs. OTT 4) 
"It was actually at home, playing in Florida. I scored against Ottawa. I just remember my mum was down for the game, which was kind of nice."

Johnny Oduya – December 19, 2006 vs. Kari Lehtonen (NJ 3 vs. ATL, So) Watch
"It was against Atlanta at home. I got a pass off the boards and kind of one-timed it. I don’t know what happened but it kind of wobbled a little bit. It didn’t go in a straight line. It went up and came down and the goalie didn’t even see the shot.

"Just like overtime, it’s never a nice play. It’s always a lousy goal." 

Zach Parise – October 5, 2005 vs. Jocelyn Thibault (NJ 5 vs. PIT 1) 
"First game against Pittsburgh, my first shot. It was a power play, Gio (Brian Gionta) was on the goal line and tried to jam it in. It came to me on the back side. My typical goal. Scored it against Jocelyn Thibault."

Rod Pelley – November 8, 2007 vs. Martin Biron (NJ 4 vs. PHI 1) Watch 
"Against Philadelphia two years ago. Me and Sergei Brylin were penalty killing, and just as the penalty expired, the puck jumped over the d-man’s stick in the neutral zone. I remember skating into it, they had one D and it was a bad gap. I just drove down the wing on my backhand, to the bottom of the circles, probably. I threw it on net, low backhander, and it went far side on Marty Biron. I was pretty excited."

Andrew Peters – December 31, 2003 vs. Maxime Ouellet (BUF 7 vs. WSH 1)
"Adam Mair took the puck wide and he made a nice play to Chris Taylor going to the net. Tayles tried to punch the puck, and it kind of rolled off the toe of his stick and I was the third guy driving wide. I was trying to go as hard to the far post as I could, it was a 3-on-2. Rolled off Tayles’ stick right past their D, their D swiped at it. Went right past their D, their goalie, and I just tapped it in."

Brian Rolston – February 27, 1995 vs. Patrick Roy (NJ 6 vs. MTL 1)
"It was a 2-on-1 with Alexander Semak, he passed it over and I went five-hole on Patrick Roy."

Bryce Salvador – December 10, 2000 vs. Robbie Tallas (StL 6 @ CHI 1)
"It was a pass out from behind the net; a one-timer."

Colin White – March 24, 2000 vs. Kevin Weekes (NJ 8 @ NYI 2)
"Weeksie was in the other net, and he wasn’t that sharp that night. We were on the Island, it was an 8-2 win. I got the eighth goal. Slapper from the point that kind of dipped. I think it was going over the net, but dipped. It was kind of neat; it was on my dad’s 50th birthday. It was definitely something special; something you’ll remember forever. Weeksie was in net, so I let him know when he got here."

Travis Zajac – October 7, 2006 vs. Marty Turco (NJ 1 @ DAL 3)
"In Dallas. We were on the power play and the puck was chipped up along the left boards, and I think it was Sergei Brylin on a 2-on-1. The d-man went over to him and he was able to make a pass over to me, and it was me and (Marty) Turco. I was able to go on my backhand and get it past him."

Dainius Zubrus – October 5, 1996 vs. John Vanbiesbrouck (PHI 1 vs. FLA 3)
"I was playing on a line with Shjon Podein and Joel Otto against Florida in my first NHL game. I’m going to get the puck and there’s Ed Jovanovski coming to crush me. Some I’m like, ‘Oh no.’ I just tried to put it to the front of the net and take the hit – I’m 18 years old and 'Jovo Cop' is coming. I go in the corner, throw it to the front of the net, and Beezer was looking at I don’t know what, and it hits him in the skate and goes in. Could’ve been my second shift."

Other first goals:
Paul Martin – October 18, 2003 vs. Nikolai Khabibulin (NJ 2 vs. TB 3)
Jay Pandolfo – December 28, 1996 vs. Guy Hebert (NJ 5 vs. ANH 3)

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