There's nothing like a shootout for a goalie's first NHL game. Eddie Pasquale gave up five goals in regulation but he came up big in the shootout, as the Lightning beat Detroit, 6-5 on Tuesday.
"It was great," Mathieu Joseph said, looking across the dressing room with a big grin for his former Syracuse Crunch teammate. "A shootout in your first game is pretty nerve-wracking. He handled it pretty well."
Pasquale didn't figure on allowing five goals and still getting the win, but that's how it went.
He wasn't nervous—that's the benefit of having a 28-year-old rookie.
"Some of these guys come into the league at 18-years-old and he has 10 more years to get here and get that shot," coach Jon Cooper said.
He credited the high level of play in the AHL and Pasquale's playoff experience in that league. Cooper coached against Pasquale, when he was at Norfolk and the goalie on St. John's.
"He was outstanding," Cooper said. "Sometimes you have to wait for your chance. If there's a story about perseverance and sticking it out to fulfill your dream, he's the poster child."
A few months ago, Pasquale was considering going to play overseas. The money would be better than in the AHL, but in the end he wasn't ready to give up on making it to the NHL.
"It's an emotional day," he said. "Im glad family is here to watch. I waited nine years. I didn't expect to give up five in my first one; I probably wanted a better performance, but it's the NHL, that's what happens."
Three of those five goals were from Frans Nielsen, but those came on turnovers and a loose puck in the slot. Joseph said they gave up too many chances in front of Pasquale.
Pasquale made a nice save on Nielsen in the shootout, though. That one felt good.
Cooper stresses the need for timely saves and there is perhaps no better example than the one Pasquale made on Gustav Nyquist late in the third period, to preserve the tie. Pasquale had already given two up to Nyquist, one that dribbles between his legs. When Nyquist went five-hole again, Pasquale clamped his legs on that puck.
Joseph also came up big for the Lightning with two goals, one of which was a nifty one-hander. He had to race to catch up to the puck, which had bounced off his skate, reached out and just tipped the puck on goalie Jimmy Howard.
"I don't think he expected me to chip it like that," Joseph said. "I think if he had come out, it would have been hard for me to make a play there. I got lucky."
It was Cedric Paquette who tied the game up in the third period, the second time he has done so in the past three games. Joseph crashed the net but was tied up and tipped the puck over to Paquette, who came in behind him and put it past Howard with five minutes left in regulation.
"Everything I touch is going in the net right now," he said. "I'm feeling really good and the way our line is playing, we're just keeping it simple and having success."
As he left the ice after the win, Pasquale looked at Cooper and said "only in Tampa can you give up five goals at get the win." The Lightning have scored five in the last four games.
Before the game, Lightning players went around the room talking about their first NHL games. Cooper remembers his vividly and was glad to see Pasquale pull out a win with a good performance in the shootout in this one.