It wasnt a game-winning goal thats become something ofa calling card for Benoit Pouliot, but it was a breath-taker and heart-stopper.
Pouliot was a highlight reel part of Bostons four-goal outburst in the first period when he embarked on a dazzlingone-man rush up the ice that ended with what many aremurmuring about as an early candidate for the Goal of the Year. The goal itself was the third straight game the former Montreal Canadiens forward had scored a goal for Boston, and helped push the Bruins to an 8-0 thumping of the Florida Panthers at the Garden.
Pouliot raced off with the puck off a face-off during four-on-four play in the first period, faked like he was going todrivethe puck outside of Dmitry Kulikov. Showing off the kind of wheels that once made him afirstround lottery pick in Minnesota, Pouliotthen cut inward toward the net. But here's best part: Pouliot dangled the biscuit between his legs and then back outin front of him as he sped on by the spellboundFlorida defender.
With Kulikov properly undressed by the between-the-legs one-on-one move, Pouliot turned to the backhand and flipped the shot past Jose Theodore as he tumbled to the iceto give the Bruins a three-goal lead. It was a play made possible by the daddy long legs reach of the long-limbed Pouliot, and a display of elite hand-eye coordination before the excellent finish as his body spilled forward.
Filthy, dirty, nasty and any other adjective did an admirable job of capturing Pouliots memorable rush up the ice. "That was obviously a highlight goal, and pretty nice to watch when you look at the replay. I was happy for him. I think the whole team on the bench was really happy for him," said Claude Julien. "Hes a good teammate and a good person. Hes kind of paid his dues early in the season where he was trying to fit in, and now hes got himself in a position where he doesnt want to let it go."
Pouliot sported asheepish, knowinggrin after the game, and admitted that goal would probably earn the highest marks for beauty of anyhes scored in his NHL career. Otherwise it was a quiet production night for Pouliot with three shots on net and the goal in 14:59 of ice time, but it was clear to his teammates the third line winger was moving at top gear in an important Eastern Conference game.
I had a good jump off the draw and the puck kind of went right to me. I think the defense was kind of thinking I would go wide on the attack, said Pouliot. Thats what I was thinking too because I had good speed right off the bat.
But when I got there I kind of faked him out a little bit and brought it back to the net a little and it went in. I dont know. I was just trying to put the puck on net. I think the guys liked it. I liked it. I loved it. Its always nice scoring and its something I want to do all the time. Obviously you cant score every game, but right now its going well for me.
It was also part of a Bs special teams' outburst that saw then end the first 20 minutes with a short-handed goal, a power play strike and a pair of four-on-four tallies where Boston hadnt had any going into Friday nights game.
But all anybody would talk about after Friday nights win was A) a hat trick for Marchand and B) Pouliots blend of speed, hands and a filthy little finish with his backhanded bid.
He's a talented player: he's got great range and great reach. So I think he used that there in that instance while almost pulling and dragging that puck and fooling the defenseman, said Gregory Campbell of Pouliot. He had the poise to hold on to that puck. A lot of guys try that move and they're not able to stick with it. He stuck with it.
Pouliot stuck with it in Boston through some difficult adjustment times earlier this season, and now the Bruins and the highlight reels are reaping the between-the-legsbenefits.