Updated August 6, 2020 - 8:51 pm
Zach Whitecloud’s first NHL goal tied a playoff game in the third period Thursday. But one would never know it from the unflappable rookie’s postgame reaction.
Whitecloud barely betrayed a hint of self-satisfaction after being asked about his quick shot that beat St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington and started a Golden Knights comeback. He was just happy to play a part in a 6-4 win against the defending Stanley Cup champions at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
“It’s definitely fun to contribute and obviously (do so) at a time like that,” said Whitecloud, who had the first of the Knights’ three third-period goals. “But, I mean, at the end of the day, you score your first one, you just have to get back to work right away.”
Whitecloud’s use of a cliche after perhaps the highlight of his career brought a grin to teammate Mark Stone’s face during the two’s news conference. It was typical Whitecloud.
The 23-year-old’s poise, steadiness and professionalism have stood out as much as his skills this season. He’s not dynamic, but he’s disciplined and rarely out of place.
His goal reflected that. As rookie center Nicolas Roy skated behind the Blues’ net looking for someone to pass to, there was Whitecloud. He came off the blue line and found an open area of the ice on the right faceoff circle. Blues center Oskar Sundqvist saw Whitecloud’s movement too late and couldn’t stop his one-timed shot from popping off Binnington’s right shoulder and into the net.
The goal tied the game at 4.
“Offense isn’t a huge part of his game, but his game has come so far just in the two, three months that I’ve seen him play,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “And he’s adding pieces to it every game. It was a big goal at a big time for us.”
DeBoer also said that despite Whitecloud’s muted postgame reaction, the rookie remains human.
“He was super excited,” DeBoer said. “I think the guys were real excited for him. He’s such a good kid.”
Fleury’s playoff streak
Marc-Andre Fleury appeared in a postseason game for the 14th straight season, which tied him with Tony Esposito for the longest such streak among goaltenders in NHL history.
It also gave Fleury the longest active playoff appearance streak among all NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA players.
No players knelt during the national anthems before the game.
Knights right wing Ryan Reaves and goaltender Robin Lehner, along with the Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickson, knelt before their game Monday to protest racial injustice.