The challenge of pulling off a hat trick at the NHL level is no small feat, especially for a grinder like Ducks forward Derek Grant. The 29-year-old Grant - while a tremendous asset to Anaheim - is not known for his goal-scoring, having scored just 21 goals in his first 221 NHL games.
But he reeled off three in a 4-1 victory Saturday night in St. Louis against a Blues team that came in with the best record in the Western Conference. And while his first career NHL hat trick was a tremendous accomplishment, the real challenge comes now in the aftermath of it.
It all stems from a lighthearted conversation over the summer with some friends prior to a day of golf. One of the friends Grant has known since they were both 4 years old, and he and his fiancée have been in the process of trying to have their first child. Another buddy had suggested that if he made a hole-in-one the next day on the links he should be allowed to name the baby.
"My one friend said he should get to name it if he gets a hole-in-one that day golfing," Grant recalled with a chuckle. "I'm not quite as good a golfer, so he made it real for me if I get a hat trick this year, I'd get to name his first child."
With all due respect to Grant, the gamble probably seemed safe at the time for the couple, until Grant did what he did Saturday night in St. Louis. "They're fully on board," Grant confirmed, "so it's pretty funny. We played hockey together growing up and stayed really close friends. His fiancée is great. She was a little skeptical about the whole thing, but she agreed to it, so I guess I'll take it."
Fans have been offering their suggestions after the story was uncovered on the postgame show on Fox Sports West by reporter Aly Lozoff. Among the proposals are (of course) Aly, Grant, Hattie, Trey, Tripp and even Teemu.
"There have been a few thrown out there," Grant said. "I've definitely got a little thinking to do, but I'll try to be pretty nice to them."
Grant is (sort of) used to scoring goals in bunches. He went his first 92 NHL games in Ottawa, Calgary, Buffalo (two stints), Nashville and Anaheim before scoring his first goal, which he finally did with two on October 20, 2017 vs. Montreal at Honda Center. He went on to score 12 in 66 games with the Ducks but was signed by Pittsburgh that offseason. Anaheim reacquired him in a trade back on January 17, and he signed a one-year contract with the team last June.
Saturday night was a breakthrough in which Grant scored a goal in all three periods. It started with a lucky break in the first when Blues goalie Jordan Binnington took a bad route back to the crease after playing the puck behind the net, and Grant was in the right place at the right time.
Video: WPG@ANA: Grant credited with goal after puck pinballs
The second goal was a thing of beauty in which Grant picked off a pass at the blue line, faked a shot and went five-hole on the on the breakaway for the first shorthanded goal of his career. The backhand move had Ducks TV commentator Brian Hayward saying he "looked like Wayne Gretzky on that breakaway."
Video: ANA@STL: Grant steals puck, scores SHG on breakaway
Goal No. 3 came with Grant in his customary role of killing a man advantage, as the Ducks held a two-goal lead, and St. Louis had sent Binnington to the bench for an extra attacker. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf knocked down a shot and ultimately had a clear path to the empty Blues' net. But instead of taking it himself, he selflessly fed the puck ahead to Grant, who comfortably skated toward the empty net before firing a shot home for a moment he'll never forget.
Video: ANA@STL: Grant caps first career hat trick with ENG
"It was cool for sure," Grant said. "It was something guys in my position don't get to do too often. It was a good accomplishment, and I enjoyed it."
Now, of course, he's got some homework to do.