This relatively rare type of goal, like the one Justin Faulk scored on Wednesday night, is its own subgenre of breakway goals. But the one that specifically still sticks out in my mind is P.K. Subban getting out of the penalty box behind the Boston defense, deking out Tuukka Rask, and scoring on a breakaway. In a pivotal Game 3 in the second round of the playoffs back in 2014, the most charismatic player on an actually really fun Montreal Canadiens team immediately made up for a roughing penalty by giving his team a 2-0 lead on the way to an eventual 4-2 win in a series they won in seven. You can hear the thrilled surprise in the Montreal crowd, almost a collective “oh no way” right when Subban receives the pass. And then the place explodes.
Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk may not be P.K. Subban, but on Wednesday night, he did his best impression. Playing for … wait for it … an actually really fun Carolina team in a pivotal home Game 3 in the second round, Faulk exited the box and received a high arcing pass from Warren Foegele. Faulk was all alone when he gloved it down, and he backhanded the puck past Robin Lehner to give the Canes a 2-0 lead in a game they would win 5-2 to take a 3-0 lead in the series. The crowd, mildly excited by the kill, just straight-up loses it as Faulk gets it on his stick.
This might be my favorite way a team can score in hockey, because there’s a seismic momentum shift whenever a team scores immediately after killing a penalty. The kill in itself will always tip the scales, as one team’s fans go from antsy to proud and relieved while the other team’s fans go from tentatively excited to frustrated and broken. But if the power-play team’s defenders don’t heed the loud crack crack crack of the goaltender’s stick warning them from the other end of the ice, a well-timed turnover means that a bomb gets dropped at the conclusion of what was already a failure. The sin-bin breakaway not only erases a mistake, it turns that mistake into a massive positive for the team that made it, and it can dramatically ignite a crowd that was biting its fingernails not five seconds earlier.
There’s no larger meaning here, exactly. But, inspired by Faulk’s goal last night, I made a compilation of similar ones from recent years, and maybe you’ll enjoy it.
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