Alexander Semin finished off the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight with a blast from close range during a 5-4 shootout victory, but before that goal, the left wing had played a good portion of the game in unfamiliar territory: planted on the crease.
Semin is regarded as among the most skilled players in the game, but rarely has he been spotted so close to the net for as much as he was this evening. His persistence paid off in regulation when, on a power play, he collected a loose puck in front of goalie Jonas Gustavsson and flipped it top shelf at 14 minutes 22 seconds, triggering a wild celebration among the 18,398 at Verizon Center.
Following the game, Coach Bruce Boudreau revealed that Semin was feeling a bit ill before faceoff and that it was uncertain if he would play.
"We've talked about it," Boudreau said of Semin becoming more of a presence near the crease. "That's where you score goals. When he scored his goal on the power play, I mean there's not too many guys in the National Hockey League that have hands like that can pick it, put it there that quickly. It's funny. He was sick tonight. We didn't know whether he was going to be scratched until after warmups. He said he wanted to play, and so he becomes a hero."