If the Anaheim Ducks need a big goal in their Western Conference Second Round series, don't be surprised if Nick Bonino scores it.
The 26-year-old forward had three goals in the Ducks' first-round series win against the Dallas Stars, but two of them came in Anaheim's 5-4 victory in Game 6, which clinched the series for the Ducks. He triggered a late-game comeback by scoring with 2:10 left in regulation to cut Anaheim's deficit to 4-3, then got the overtime winner at 2:47.
"It's tough to describe," Bonino said Tuesday at Honda Center. "It's almost like your mind goes blank. You're just so happy. There's euphoria, just pure happiness."
Center - ANA
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 4
SOG: 12 | +/-: 3
Bonino is no stranger to scoring big goals. He had an overtime winner in Game 5 against the Detroit Red Wings
last spring and is one of four players in Ducks history to score two OT playoff goals. Before he came to the NHL, he was part of one of college hockey's most memorable comebacks: Bonino scored the tying goal with 17.4 seconds to go in the 2009 NCAA championship game for Boston University; the Terriers went on to beat Miami University in overtime for the title.
"It's tough to describe the emotion that's in those celebrations, but it's something we all love to experience," Bonino said. "It's when you're at your most basic part of yourself. Just raw emotion."
For now, Bonino doesn't want to rank the series-clincher in Game 6 against any of his other clutch goals.
"They're all so different," he said. "I will say that being able to score the goal that ends a series means a lot to me."
Bonino came into this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs after his best regular season; his 22 goals were twice as many as he'd had in his career before 2013, and his 27 assists and 49 points were career highs.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said after Game 6 that Bonino was the type of player who could be counted on to do the right thing at big moments.
"He has a knack no matter how he's playing, good or bad, but you put him out at the end because there's something about him that he's in the right position at the right time to make the right play," Boudreau said. "That's what he's all about, so we put him out at the end and in overtime. I couldn't have scripted it any better."
Bonino said he appreciates his coach's confidence.
"It's really nice for him to say that, and it's nice that at this point in my career, people are able to say that about me," Bonino said. "I don't know how to explain it. I think there are cases where I'm in the right place at the right time, and the puck finds me. Both of my OT goals up here, and that game in college … they were great passes and I've just had to finish them. It's nice."