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Posted at 07:30 AM ET, 11/03/2011

Cody Eakin shakes off nerves for a solid NHL debut


(Toni L. Sandys - WASHINGTON POST)
The Caps had a night they won't soon forget on Tuesday. So did rookie Cody Eakin, who made his NHL debut in a wild, 5-4 overtime win over the visiting Ducks.

Eakin's stat line doesn't jump off the score sheet: no points and an even rating in 13 minutes 19 seconds of ice time. But the 20-year-old was around the puck a lot and fired three shots on net, including a pair of decent scoring chances.

"Before the game I was pretty nervous," Eakin said. "You have so much going through your head. ‘Am I going to have my legs?’ This and that. But when you get out there, it's just another game. Or at least I
tried to tell myself that."

Eakin nearly tallied on a wraparound attempt early in the first period that Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller trapped against the post with the toe of his skate. Then, with about five minutes remaining in regulation and the Caps trailing 4-3, Eakin went hard to the net and took a pass from Mathieu Perreault. But just as Eakin went to uncork a shot, Ducks center Nick Bonino tied up his stick, blunting Eakin's attempt, which bounced harmlessly off Hiller's right pad.

"That was a nice little feed," said Eakin, who started the game on a line with Marcus Johansson and Alexander Semin. "The guy had his stick over top of mine so I couldn't lift the puck. It was a great pass.

"I thought I did decent," Eakin added. "A few turnovers. I definitely had a few scoring chances. It was my first one, so get it out of the way and get better."

Eakin, who was one of the final players cut in training camp, was called up from Hershey on Monday to give the previously scuffling Caps an energy and speed boost.  Coach Bruce Boudreau said Eakin accomplished that goal.

"I thought he handled himself quite admirably," Boudreau said. "I thought in the third period he got a bit nervous. He gave the puck away a couple of times. But you could see he could skate with these guys.

"I thought he was going to score a goal on his first shift," Boudreau added. "There were a couple of chances he had. I betcha his parents were going pretty cuckoo back home."

Eakin, meantime, had a front-row seat for one of the craziest comebacks at Verizon Center in a while.

"It was nice to be a part of that," he said. "We could have easily packed it in and said we'll wait for the weekend. But the heart of these guys... it was nice to get a win like that."

By  |  07:30 AM ET, 11/03/2011

 
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