Rick Nash’s phone was filled with text messages and voicemails when he woke up Friday. He also had half a dozen interview requests.
That’s what happens when you score the goal of the year in the NHL. “Yeah I know, it’s been crazy,” Nash told The Canadian Press after practice in Dallas.
By now surely, most hockey fans have seen it TV or on the Internet. “Wow,” is the most commonly heard response after seeing The Goal.
Nash took a pass from Columbus Blue Jackets teammate Michael Peca just outside the Phoenix blue-line Thursday night, deftly stickhandled his way around both Coyotes defencemen Keith Ballard and Derek Morris before finally deking out goalie Mikael Tellqvist and firing into the open left side of the net.
Oh, and it was a game-winner with 21.5 seconds left in the third period.
“I don’t even really know how I really did it,” said Nash, whose Jackets play Saturday afternoon in Dallas. “You know, the one replay I’ve seen, it looked like the puck was on a string almost. It just happened so fast I don’t even remember what I was thinking or what I was trying to do.
“It was just a lucky play.”
Lucky or not, it dethroned Jonathan Toews from the goal-of-the-year honour. The Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward made highlight reels around North America with his end-to-end rush and goal Oct. 19 against Jose Theodore and the Colorado Avalanche.
But Nash did it with the game on the line. Peca had the best seat in the house for it. He was trailing the play thinking the puck might get poked loose by one of the defencemen. Wrong.
“In real time when you’re actually in the play, I don’t think you realize really how amazing the moves really were,” Peca said on the phone from his Dallas hotel room. “You just see him going up against two guys and gets in and then finds the puck and scores. Everybody was excited because we just took the lead late.
“But then when you get into the hotel and you see the replay, those are just great moves. He twisted those two guys around. It’s just one of those things where you wonder how a person can pull something like that off. But he certainly has that ability.”
His head coach was impressed, but only after he saw it on TV. He missed it live.
“I never saw it,” Ken Hitchcock told The Canadian Press. “After he made his first move, half the bench was up, when he made his second move the whole bench was up. By the time he scored the goal we couldn’t see anything. We had to go back in the room and look at the replay.
“We never say anything, just a bunch of guys jumping up and down like crazy.”
Once he saw it, Hitchcock knew it ranked among the very best goals he’s ever seen.
“I mean, to beat the defencemen is one thing, but to stay with it around the goal area was even more impressive for me,” said Hitchcock.
It conjured up memories from Hitchcock’s days coaching Mike Modano in Dallas and Peter Forsberg in Philadelphia.
“There were the ones from Modano where he would pick up the puck behind the net and go through three guys and score,” said Hitchcock. “There was a playoff goal in Philadelphia by Forsberg against Buffalo where he went around and around in his zone twice and then went through the team through the middle of the ice and scored.
“That’s the only other goal I can remember where you’re just leaping right out of your seat.”
Nash, who has 25 goals in 45 games this season, still can’t believe he did it.
“Usually a 1-on-2 is just a dump-in play – you chip it in and try to forecheck,” said Nash. “There was 30 seconds left and I knew I had three guys back behind me so I just tried to make the best out of the situation.
“I’m sure if I tried that move 100 times it might work once.”