|“Right now, I’m still excited and jacked up about it," Palmieri said. "I’m sure it will wear off in a couple of days, but still looking back on it, it was incredible." |
In the hours leading up to last night’s Ducks-Lightning game, Kyle Palmieri
was already beaming with excitement for his NHL debut.
The 19-year-old would show more than 13,000 fans in attendance and others watching from home an even bigger grin when he scored his first NHL goal with 4:20 left in regulation to tie the game at 2-2.
“It was with me until I feel asleep last night,” said Palmieri of that smile. “Right now, I’m still excited and jacked up about it. I’m sure it will wear off in a couple of days, but still looking back on it, it was incredible."
Any first career goal is a big moment for a player, but Palmieri’s helped the Ducks send the game to overtime, where they ultimately prevailed on a Ryan Getzlaf
goal off a great Teemu Selanne
feed. For a team fighting to get back to .500 on an important homestand, the goal could not have come at a better time.
“It was a big game for us,” said Getzlaf. “We were able to come back at the end. The kid scored a big goal in his first game and that is exciting.”
Said head coach Randy Carlyle, “Kyle Palmieri
goes in and doesn’t get an opportunity to play that much (7:40 of ice time), but still scores a big-time goal for us to tie it. He’s a skilled player and can find the net. The puck follows those guys around.”
Palmieri was also in amazement after the first two of his 12 shifts on the evening. He was still trying to grasp the fact that he was partaking in the game of hockey at its highest level. “It was surreal,” said Palmieri, who began the year with seven goals and nine points in nine games with Syracuse in the AHL, where he earned player of the week honors last week. “I just looked around and tried to take it all in. Looking down the bench and seeing guys like Selanne, Getzlaf, guys who I have watched play, it was an honor. It took awhile to sink in.”
|“Kyle Palmieri goes in and doesn’t get an opportunity to play that much (7:40 of ice time), but still scores a big-time goal for us to tie it," Carlyle said. "He’s a skilled player and can find the net. The puck follows those guys around.” |
The comeback win for Anaheim (5-7-1) has the potential to be that starting point the team has desired for close to a month. After taking down the current top Eastern Conference team in the Lightning, the next test comes tomorrow night in the form of perennial power Pittsburgh, led by star forward Sidney Crosby.
It will be the second game in a span that features Anaheim playing five out of six in the friendly confines of Honda Center. “Our ability to get in on the puck was better in last night’s game than in previous ones,” Carlyle said. “All it is one game. Now we flush that and it’s about preparation for tomorrow. We have to put ourselves in a good position with a good start. We can’t rest on last night’s hockey game.”
Said veteran Todd Marchant, “Tampa Bay is one of the best teams in the East and Pittsburgh is as well. We’re looking to build for confidence sake. When we play our game, we are capable of playing with the best teams in this league. A lot of times those are things that can go a long way. They can snowball in the right direction. We needed that win last night. It was a big boost for our team. You can just feel it in the room today too, it carried over.”
Playing on a line with Marchant (who is nearly double his age) and fellow rookie Nick Bonino
, Palmieri hopes to be able to continue contributing toward that goal, just as he did in a big way last night.
“Scoring a goal was an unbelievable feeling,” Palmieri said. “Hopefully we can keep some of this momentum from last night and bring it into tomorrow night’s game. The reason they brought me up here was to provide a little spark and create some offense for the team. Last night was a good start, so we’ll see how it goes.”