Capitals center Marcus Johansson raced down the left wing, picked up the loose puck and fired a cross-ice pass to Andrew Gordon, who jammed the puck past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur for his first career goal.
“When I first hit it, I didn’t know if it went in or not,” Gordon said after Wednesday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “Once I saw [the red light], it was a real good feeling getting the first goal for the team and just knowing I contributed.”
Soon after he got a congratulatory text message from an surprising admirer: Sidney Crosby. The two players grew up in neighboring towns in Nova Scotia, just ten minutes away by car. They often played against and with each other at early age and have kept in touch throughout the years.
“As big as he is, he’s kind of got that small-town kid in him and it’s nice when he does little things like that for guys like us,” said Gordon. “I hate to break all your hearts, but he’s a good guy. I don’t have a bad thing to say about the guy, other than the crest on his jersey.”
“I’m one of the few players in the world that knows, personally, the two best players in the world,” he added, referring to Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
Gordon’s goal came after seven games over three years at the NHL level. The 25 year-old Canadian has dominated with the AHL’s Hershey Bears but hopes that this time he can stay with the big club.
“I want to make sure every time I touch that ice, I’m working 100 percent and showing the coaches that I can skate at this level and think at this level,” he said. “You have to be ready every time they call your number and be ready to work as hard as you possibly can and try to generate some energy.”
With the Winter Classic just days away, Gordon hopes that he’s shown enough of that hard work to be featured on hockey’s biggest stage. “I try hard not to even think about it. Being here and breaking in all this fancy new gear is pretty exciting in itself,” he said. “I think it would be an amazing experience and I’m going to cross my fingers.”
This wouldn’t be his first taste of the Capitals – Penguins rivalry for Gordon. He has faced Pittsburgh’s minor league affiliate, the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins, down a level with the Bears.
“It’s exciting to be part of a team that has a genuine hatred for somebody,” Gordon said. “It is one of those things that’s sort of bred into you when you step into the dressing room in Hershey, you know Wilkes Barrie is coming at you every night and if you’re not at you’re best, they’re going to beat you,”
“I think it’s the same thing here,” he added. “The 20 guys that are in have to give 100 percent. They have to be at their best to beat [Pittsburgh].”
Gordon, who also picked up his first career assist on Tuesday, has certainly showed his enthusiasm for his Caps teammates. When the RMNB Blogger got to the bench after scoring his goal, he made sure to thank Johansson for setting him up though he might have gone a little overboard when he kissed the 20 year-old Swede on the cheek.
Photo credit: Clydeorama
Said Johansson: “I don’t know if he really hit me [with the kiss] but I think he was just very excited and I’m happy for him.”
“That’s going to haunt me forever, I think,” Gordon said. “I don’t even really know why I did that. I was just a happy guy, I just wanted to express it.”