Maxime Talbot isn’t your average, normal NHL player.
Quite the contrary, actually.
Talbot, an easygoing, free-spirited center for the Pittsburgh Penguins, is always quick with a laugh, smile or a joke anytime you see him. Get to know him and he might even give you a funny pose when he walks off the ice or mockingly flex for a camera interview.
So, that’s why his first NHL goal fits him so well. On the surface, Talbot’s goal may seem like any other – it tied Friday’s game in Philadelphia at 5-5 late in the third period. However, it was the manner in which Talbot put the puck into the net which makes it a perfect fit for the Penguins’ rookie.
Here’s how it all unfolded: With 8:08 remaining in the third period of Friday night’s game in Philadelphia, Talbot took a face-off near the Penguins’ bench. As the puck trickled toward the middle of the rink, Talbot skated around a Flyer and launched the puck from about the center red line into the Philadelphia end. The puck sailed right into the Flyers’ goal as goaltender Antero Nittymaki was adjusting his equipment and clearing the snow away from his crease. He apparently had no idea play had even started. Few people realized the puck actually went into the net. The goal light never came on as the Wachovia Center crowd watched in shock and confusion as Talbot’s goal completed Pittsburgh’s four-goal comeback.
What a way to record your first NHL goal.
“It feels awesome,” said Talbot after Saturday’s practice, clad in pink shower shoes given to him by the team as part of his rookie initiation. “My friends were calling me and giving me a hard time. They were telling me that only I could do that.”
Certainly, it’s now how Talbot envisioned scoring his first goal.
“Not really. But you know what, it feels awesome because everybody is talking to me about this goal,” he said with a laugh. “That’s my style – it was just different from every other goal and I like it.”
The goal wasn’t necessarily a fluke. Talbot was trying to hit the net when he sent the puck up ice to allow the Penguins to make a line change.
“I tried to put it on goal because you never know what can happen exactly,” he said.
Talbot, who centers the team’s fourth line, didn’t actually see the puck glide into the net because he was skating toward the bench for the change.
“No not at all. I shot the puck and headed to the bench,” he said with a grin. “I just fired it on goal and was getting ready to change and I saw [Matt] Murley on the bench screaming ‘It’s in! It’s in!’ I was like, ‘What?!’ and he said ‘It’s in the goal! I didn’t know what was going on – just people were screaming on the bench.”
Everyone on the Penguins’ bench had something to say to Talbot.
“Everyone was happy. Mario [Lemieux] congratulated me,” Talbot said. “It was a great feeling. I was waiting for that moment to score my first NHL goal.”
Talbot’s goal turned out to be a crucial one as the teams remained tied at 5-all at the end of regulation. The Flyers won with an overtime power-play goal, but the Penguins still got a point in the standings.
“It felt good because we got a point out of it,” said Talbot, a fierce competitor on the ice. “It’s awesome.”
Talbot has a few extra souvenirs to commemorate the moment, which makes the memory of the goal even more unique.
“I kept the puck. Two shifts after, I broke my stick on a face-off,” he said. “Someone grabbed it, so I have the stick, too. It’s in pieces, but at least I got it.”
Now, Talbot looks forward to scoring in a traditional fashion.
“I am hot right now,” he said with a smile. “Hopefully I can keep the streak going.”