When Nick Holden scored his first NHL goal last month at Pepsi Center, his wife and son were on hand to celebrate the occasion.
He scored for the second time in his career Thursday night in Edmonton, and a pretty good “Holden contingent” was again on hand to witness it.
Up to 75 people, in fact.
Holden grew up just outside Edmonton—in St. Albert, Alberta—so this game was a homecoming for the first-year defenseman, who signed with the Avalanche as a free agent this offseason. He talked at length Wednesday afternoon back in Denver about his excitement level on the eve of returning to Alberta, and he held 24 tickets for family and friends Thursday in the Rexall Place bowl.
He said after the game that he estimated anywhere from 50 to 75 tickets were probably purchased with the intent of seeing him play, but he didn’t have time to catch up with that many people with Colorado’s quick turnaround tomorrow night in Calgary.
“Kind of had this game marked on the calendar, coming home for the first time,” said Holden, who played seven games before this year for Columbus but never played in Edmonton. “It’s obviously special that my family and my friends got to come to the game and experience what I’ve been doing the last few years here.”
Holden didn’t actually earn credit for his second career score until some time after the play.
He initially threw the puck on net from just outside the left face-off circle, and after it bounced off a couple Oilers’ sticks and skates it appeared to ricochet off teammate Nathan MacKinnon’s skate and into the back of the net at 4:20 in the second period.
A lengthy review switched it up, and Holden got credit after it was deemed MacKinnon never touched the puck.
Matt Duchene got an assist on the play, giving him nine this season and 21 points overall.
“I saw that there was a play to jump up, and I was calling as loud as I could from ‘Dutchy,’” Holden said. “Luckily it went off their guy’s stick and then their guy’s skate and beat their goalie. I was actually trying to pass it to MacKinnon, but you get lucky sometimes.”
St. Albert is about 20 minutes northwest of Edmonton, and Holden grew up attending hockey games at Rexall—though it’s been known by various names through the years. For a young hockey player with high aspirations, Rexall was the “barn” a young Holden envisioned when he pretended to score NHL goals.
He didn’t have to pretend Thursday.
And who knows?
Calgary is just about three hours from St. Albert. There might be another Holden festival tomorrow night at the Flames’ Scotiabank Saddledome.
- Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda suffered an apparent knee injury at 12:11 of the first period and did not return to the game. The extent of the injury isn’t yet known.
Hejda lost his footing and crashed into the corner boards after he tangled up with Edmonton’s Mark Arcobello in a puck pursuit in the Avs’ zone. Hejda immediately clutched his knee and was later helped off the ice, with an arm draped around Colorado trainer Matt Sokolowski and fellow defenseman Nate Guenin.
“Right now it’s difficult to say,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. “I haven’t talked to Matt, but we’ll see more tomorrow or, I guess, the next day. The plan is to send him back to Denver tomorrow, and we’ll see. [Team physician] Dr. [Andrew] Parker will meet with Jan, and we’ll have more details.
“Right now, I cannot give you more details than that.”
- Colorado gave up three first-period goals Thursday after allowing just 12 first-period goals combined in its previous 25 games. Going further, before Thursday the Avs’ had surrendered three or fewer goals in 20 of 25 games.
- Cory Sarich and Brad Malone both sat out Thursday’s game as healthy scratches. It was Sarich’s second DND of the season and the second straight for Malone, who was recalled from Lake Erie before the Avs’ Nov. 19 game against Chicago.
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