Zach Hyman scores 1st NHL goal in Maple Leafs' shootout loss
Energetic forward continues to impress Babcock
In a week's worth of NHL play, energetic Zach Hyman has been effective on the forecheck, shown an ability to get to the puck, drawn penalties and caught the eye of Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock.
And on Monday night, he scored his first NHL goal in his fifth start.
After fanning on a shot from the side of the Buffalo crease, the Toronto forward grabbed a loose puck and buried the puck into the net past fallen Sabres goalie Chad Johnson to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead with 19 seconds left in the second period. Buffalo scored three unanswered goals, culminating in Sam Reinhart's shootout winner, for a 4-3 decision.
Want to see what happiness looks like? Try Zach Hyman after his first NHL goal. <a href="https://t.co/4o3wmKGsz2">pic.twitter.com/4o3wmKGsz2</a>—@PPPLeafs
The 23-year-old Toronto native raised his arms, tripped on Johnson's stick and skated to the bench to high-five his teammates. But Hyman wasn't done, as he skated the length of the ice at the Air Canada Centre to celebrate with goalie Garret Sparks, his teammate much of the season with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.
Prior to his promotion ahead of the NHL's Feb. 29 trade deadline, Hyman posted 33 points in 54 games this season with the Marlies.
"I don't know how much he's ever going to score," Babcock said. "But he's going to be able to penalty kill and play a regular shift and play with good players and get them the puck back."
Toronto acquired the University of Michigan grad from Florida for forward Greg McKegg in June 2015.
The 2014-15 All-American and author of two children's books is the fourth Maple Leaf in the past month to score his first NHL goal.
On Feb. 13, Brendan Leipsic became the first Toronto player to score in his NHL debut since Nikolai Kulemin on Oct. 9, 2008, notching the game-winning goal in a 5-2 victory over Vancouver.
Leipsic, with three points in six contests, was sent back to the Marlies on the weekend.
In his second NHL game, Nikita Soshnikov wristed a shot by Washington goaltender Philipp Grubauer in a 3-2 loss to the Capitals. The 22-year-old Russian has two goals and three points in five games.
Centre William Nylander, whom the Maple Leafs drafted eighth overall last summer, rifled his first NHL goal in his fourth outing in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Ottawa. He rifled a shot to the top corner that eluded Senators goalie Andrew Hammond midway through the first period.