Any day now, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will become a father for the first time.
And the Golden Knights forward opened the scoring in Sunday’s 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at rocking T-Mobile Arena.
“Life is good,” Bellemare said.
Bellemare’s goal, his fourth, sparked a three-goal first period from the Western Conference-leading Knights (26-9-2, 54 points).
With the Knights in the middle of a line change, Alex Tuch settled a bouncing puck on the right wing and found Bellemare cutting toward the net.
Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen slid from left to right across his crease, and Bellemare used his momentum against him to slip a backhander into an open net.
“We are having a great time here, playing the right way. Hockey right now, it’s fun,” said Bellemare, whose wife, Hannah, was due Dec. 28. “I’ve got to be honest, a lot of my mind is about the baby coming. It’s my first one. I’m going to make mistakes, I know about that, so I’m not that stressed, but I’m excited to see his little face.”
Bellemare, 32, matched his goal total from last season with Philadelphia. His career high in goals is seven in 2015-16.
He finished with four shots on goal and one blocked shot Sunday, as his line was matched at times against Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews.
Bellemare’s 14:08 of ice time was his third-most of the season.
“He brings consistency to all the games,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “The big thing he does is he kills penalties unbelievable. He blocks shots, faceoffs, character. He’s a good solid teammate.”
Shut it down
The Maple Leafs failed to register a shot on goal for the final 12 minutes, 2 seconds of the first period, and three of Toronto’s four shots in the period came with the Knights killing a penalty to defenseman Brayden McNabb.
According to the NHL’s official play-by-play, Toronto’s first shot of the game was at the 6:51 mark by Matthews. And their final shot of the first period came at 7:58 by Dominic Moore.
The Knights went 11-1-1 (23 points) in December, the most wins in a calendar month by a team in its inaugural season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.