The precious object left the Bell Centre in the suit pocket belonging to Jesse Eisenberg, one of the New York Islanders’ media relations staffers.
Now it will be mounted on a plaque, along with the scoresheet from the Isles’ 4-3 overtime triumph over the Montreal Canadiens.
The memento is destined for the Calgary living room of Denis Hickey, whose 24-year-old son Thomas scored his first NHL goal Thursday, in his 10 NHL game.
That it was the overtime winner, and Hickey managed to score it with his dad in the stands just makes it all the sweeter.
“The first time he saw me play for the Islanders was in Ottawa two days ago, then he took the train yesterday, we had dinner last night and he was at the game today,” said Hickey, who was the fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft. “He’s smiling right now, I know that. He’s my biggest supporter . . . for him to be here is really special.
“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better. If I could have picked a way to do it, I wouldn’t even have thought of that. I heard my name called, just sort of jumped up there, I probably shouldn’t even have been up there, but things have a way of working out,” he added.
Sometimes you just have to break the rules, young man.
The L.A. Kings, who drafted Hickey, lost him to New York through waivers – on Long Island he has reacquainted himself with World Junior Team Canada teammate John Tavares, who drew the second assist on Hickey’s momentous goal.
“I know he’s been through a few years putting his time in down in the minors . . . I was happy when he picked him up, he’s played really well for us, great to see him get one and such a big one for us,” Tavares said.
The marker was a beautiful illustration of Tavares’ outrageous talent.
With the teams four-on-four, he accepted Michael Grabner’s pass at the Montreal blue line before turning Habs defenceman Raphael Diaz inside out with a twisting move.
Then he slid a seeing-eye pass to Grabner from the seat of his pants, and the Austrian made a simple dish for Hickey to tap in to the net.
“When I originally made the cut back I got the D turning the way I wanted to, I wanted to shoot it myself but I lost my edge. I heard Grabs call for it as he was cutting, as I was falling I saw him skating, it was a desperation poke to him. I didn’t know Thomas was there,” Tavares said.
Intentional or not, it was Tavares’ 22 point of the year in 17 games.
The 22-year-old is now tied for third place in the NHL scoring race – he notched an assist on linemate Matt Moulson’s second power-play goal of the game in the second period, which brought the Isles to within 3-2.
In truth, this is a game the visitors had no business winning.
And while the Habs’ five-game win streak is now a six-game unbeaten-in-regulation streak, there was no comfort from the overtime point.
Theirs was a dressing room full of angry men.
“Going into the third period we were up a goal and we were already panicking, it’s a bad feeling. We have to stick to the game plan for 60 minutes, in this case 65 minutes and play in their end. We were back on our heels,” said forward Max Pacioretty, who scored twice in a losing effort, giving him four goals in his last three games.
Montreal was staked to a 1-0 lead in the first minute after Colby Armstrong knocked New York’s Travis Hamonic off a puck behind the net and slid a perfect pass to Travis Moen, who fired past Evgeni Nabokov.
They doubled the lead on a tic-tac-toe power-play at the 11:02 mark: P.K. Subban made a gorgeous move to feed David Desharnais, whose no-look pass was rifled into the top corner by Pacioretty.
After Moulson narrowed the gap to 2-1 with a power-play tip-in in the first minute of the second, Pacioretty went to work again, accepting Desharnais’ astute feed from the corner to make it 3-1.
Moulson’s second – set up by Tavares – gave the Isles life, they duly tied the game after a defensive breakdown by Tomas Plekanec allowed Franz Nielsen to skate in unmolested and wire a wrist shot past Carey Price’s glove.
The Habs had ample chances to win the game late – Pacioretty blew a golden chance on the power-play with Nabokov badly out of position – but just couldn’t close the door against a team that had lost seven of its last nine games coming in.
“The (first) power-play was big, it gave us belief and even when they got the two goal lead, we just stuck with things, got another power-play and got more confident,” Tavares said.