It was a great night for the Blue Jackets, but it was an even better one for Zac Dalpe, whose story is truly inspirational.
The Ohio State graduate had last scored an NHL goal on October 20th, 2016. That's 1,629 days. The only reason Dalpe was in the lineup tonight was because of Riley Nash's knee injury.
None of that matters now, because he got his opportunity, and he certainly took it.
Max Domi found Dalpe streaking through the Lightning zone, and at the 14:57 mark of the first period, Dalpe beat Andrei Vasilevskiy to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead. Domi's pass was one of the best you'll see, as he put it right on Dalpe's stick. Dalpe was pleased with the feed.
"Quick up from Jonesy to Doms, and it seemed like [Domi] was on a bit of an island by himself, so I thought if I could get the middle with speed...[Domi] was gonna make the play to me," said Dalpe. "I just had to shovel it home after that, and it was a great pass by him."
He's struggled to become a regular at the NHL level, but his leadership is invaluable in the AHL, as he is the captain for the Cleveland Monsters when he's not playing with the Blue Jackets. The 2013-14 season, in which he played 55 games for Vancouver, is the only time that he has played more than 21 games in an NHL season since breaking into the league during the 2010-11 campaign.
"I still want to prove to people and myself that I can play at this level," said Dalpe. "Getting the goal is a cherry on top, and now it's just waking up tomorrow and trying to be the consistent player that I've been searching to be my entire career."
He's a family man, as well as a hockey player, and that can be tough on a family, especially when you go up-and-down from the NHL to the AHL consistently.
"My boys were pretty upset I had to leave last night, and I said something on the way out like, 'maybe I'll get you a goal to make up for it,'" said Dalpe. "I knew my wife probably had them stay up in the first, so luckily I scored in the first...I know it's probably a meaningless goal to a lot of people, but it's just a lot of hard work that I've gone through. I take pride in my kids watching me and being a mentor for them, and it's definitely huge."
Domi Came To Play
He's finally showing glimpses of the player he was in Montreal over the last two seasons. Domi had a two-point night. In addition to the primary assist on Dalpe's goal, he also potted a power-play goal to make it 3-0 in the third period. It ended up being the game-winning goal after the Lightning scored two late goals.
He's got 1-3-4 in his last four games, and all signs point towards him continuing his strong play.
Jenner Leaves Game
In the third period, Boone Jenner was hit in the wrist by a shot from Patrik Laine, which is never a good thing. He headed down the tunnel and would not return.
"I’m not so sure we’re going to get good news there," said John Tortorella after the game.
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