A player's first NHL goal is always special.
But Lightning rookie wing Yanni Gourde made his unforgettable Saturday night.
Gourde scored the game-tying goal in the Lightning's huge 3-2 win over the Panthers. It came shorthanded during the second period. Gourde stripped Vincent Trocheck at the Tampa Bay blueline, then fought off the Panthers forward the rest of the way. Trocheck slashed, and grabbed Gourde, who finished it off in style.
"It's something you dream about," Gourde said. "A surreal moment."
Said coach Jon Cooper: "It was uplifting for all of us."
Gourde, called up earlier in the week, has been thrust into a top-six role, playing both special teams units after injuries to Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette. Gourde said playing this playoff style hockey fits his style, and he's thrilled to be part of it. Four of his 22 goals in AHL Syracuse came shorthanded, but this came on the biggest stage.
"He's really seizing his moment up here," Cooper said.