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Gustafsson reflects on his first NHL goal

'I didn't see it go in the net. I heard the guys start cheering.' -Gustafsson

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

David Gustafsson couldn't wipe the smile off his face last night. He very well could have been grinning ear-to-ear when he woke up the next morning.

Scoring your first NHL goal tends to have that effect, especially in a win.

His goal, a rush from his own end that began with a strong move around San Jose Sharks defenceman - and fellow countryman - Erik Karlsson, ended up being the game-winner in a 5-1 victory.

"The first thing I thought was just get the puck out of the zone," said Gustafsson. "I saw I was one-on-one with the defenceman, so I thought I might try and go down and get a shot. It worked out."

It certainly did. The defenceman he found himself up against after beating Karlsson was Mario Ferraro. The 19-year-old used Ferraro as a bit of a screen on goaltender Aaron Dell and fired a wrist shot off Dell's glove and in.

Although Gustafsson needed to see the highlight after the game to actually see the puck go in the net.

"I didn't see it go in the net. I heard the guys start cheering. So it was a good feeling," Gustafsson said. "You can almost see it after the goal, I get really surprised about the whole shift actually."

Video: POSTGAME | David Gustafsson

That shifted lasted 1:04 late in the first period. Gustafsson's line with Logan Shaw and Joona Luoto had a couple of offensive chances in that opening frame, including Luoto hitting the post - coming within inches of getting his first NHL goal.

"That line has been working hard, battling hard. They haven't had a lot of chances," said head coach Paul Maurice. "Luoto hit a bar here tonight, so maybe it's the start of some confidence for them. I liked the way they played after it."

Gustafsson finished the night with 8:33 of ice time, the second most he's received in a game this season (second to the 8:42 he had against the Vancouver Canucks on November 8).

While Gustafsson's ice time has averaged out to 6:03 so far this season, captain Blake Wheeler says Gustafsson's practice habits in his NHL rookie season, along with his personality as a player, made the bench happy to see him experience the milestone.

"It's a great moment for him. He's just a guy that battles for us every day," Wheeler said. "The opportunity isn't always there for a young player but he competes hard, works really hard in practice. He does all those little things you want out of a young player. It's great to see those guys get rewarded."

Now Gustafsson will always have the story of his first NHL goal, which even he admits will be a better story than he ever thought it could be.

"I thought the first goal was going to be a puck bouncing in or something," he said with his trademark grin. "This was a nice goal so I'm happy about it."

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