Jack Ahcan remained in the Boston Bruins’ lineup for their 4-3 win over the Blackhawks Thursday, as Matt Grzelcyk missed his second straight game. Playing on the power play in just his eighth NHL game, Ahcan scored his first NHL goal.
“It ended up working for me and put a spark on me, and I put one in the net,” said Ahcan. “It was on the power play, but still, it was nice to get that going.”
The 24-year-old’s goal wasn’t just his first NHL goal, but it was a crucial goal that tied the game up midway through the second period.
“It was down in a power play, kind of the dying seconds,” said Ahcan. “I was down in the corner trying to keep the puck alive, put it back to (Brad Marchand) and it just bounced, and I put one hard over the defenseman’s stick, and got it into the slot, ripped it, and ended up hitting the post, and going in. Nice first one to get.”
The 5-foot-9 defenseman says he’s pictured the moment before, but it didn’t go the way he had imagined it being. Ahcan says he didn’t know what to do with himself when he scored due to his mind racing so fast.
“I didn’t really know what to do with my hands or my body. I just kind of got off the ice and sat on the bench and things started to come back,” said Ahcan. “You work so hard to get here, and I dreamed about scoring a goal in the NHL…my mind was racing, and I had to dial it back in, cause there’s still a lot of game left, and I think I did a good job.
“It is just such a great feeling. You do picture it in your head over and over before it actually happens,” Ahcan added. “I didn’t think once it would be like that, but it was a pretty awesome goal, and nice to get out of the way.”
Ahcan is still soaking the moment in, but he doesn’t want all the attention though.
“I don’t want all the attention to be on me. But you do have to kind of soak it in, first NHL goal,” said Ahcan. “It was kind of a weird thing, cause it’s like, ‘Let’s get back to this game and win this game.’ But everybody was so happy for me, and they’ve all been awesome to me lately.
“It was just kind of overwhelming. Like I said, it was pretty sweet.”
Ahcan wasn’t even supposed to play Thursday, as Grzelcyk was supposed to return to the lineup but he woke up under the weather — giving Ahcan his second straight game with Brandon Carlo on the second defense pairing for both the power play and the 5-on-5.
“He’s got to play to his strength, and when he has the puck on his stick, he has to be moving and making plays that result in opportunities at the net, and I thought he started doing a better job of that in the second period — scored a goal, made a play down low to (Brad Marchand),” Bruce Cassidy said.
“Transition game, every touch, he has to value. It’s like when Grizz came up: your bread and butter is going to be passing the puck up the ice and giving the forwards some transition opportunities in those areas, and he has to make sure he is very clean with those,” Cassidy continued. “Otherwise, if he’s not, then most teams are going to prefer a bigger body to do the other things, so that’s where he has to be good, and we’ll keep working with him on it.”
Cassidy had a message for Ahcan in the morning pregame skate Thursday, and Ahcan believes he did what was asked of him.
“It’s pretty much all about getting my feet moving when I have the puck. It’s kind of the biggest difference I noticed,” said Ahcan. “He had a little message for me this morning during morning skate, and I think I did what he asked, and ended up feeling good tonight.”
On Chicago’s second goal, Ahcan forced Brandon Hagel to the outside when approaching the net, but Hagel wrapped it around Swayman before the goaltender could get to the other side. Cassidy wasn’t upset with Ahcan’s defense there.
“On the defensive side of things, it’s just angles,” said Cassidy. “Like the goal, the second one, I thought he did a not bad job. He keeps the guy low and outside on his backhand, the guy happens to wrap it around. I don’t think that’s a poor play by the D. Where it got muddled is when he went to cut him off at the far post, I think his stick got stuck in (Jeremy) Swayman, so you’ve got to clean that up.
“But how he played the play was fine, and that’s what he has to do if he can’t end it in the corner. I think there’s some learning curves in that part of it.”
Ahcan also had to defend a Chicago 4-on-1 chance that resulted in the Hawks’ first goal of the night, in which he got to face Patrick Kane, whom he was a “huge fan” of as a kid.
“First thing I’m thinking is, ‘Oh here we go, Kane, watched him all my life,'” Ahcan said with a smirk. “I knew he was gonna pass. I tried to kind of bait him into passing it a little bit earlier. He’s such a good player, I probably should’ve just kept my stick in the lane. It’s a 4-on-1, but I probably should’ve kept my stick in the middle. It’s definitely a good learning experience and next time I have a 4-on-1 I think I’m just gonna keep my stick in the middle.”
Ahcan says allowing two goals on defense lit a fire underneath him.
“I’ve been playing hockey for quite a bit, all my life,” said Ahcan. “You never want to be on the ice for an opponent’s goal, but it kind of does give you that confidence to step up your game now. It kind of lights a fire underneath you.”
As for who he’s giving the puck to?
“My mom probably wants it so I’ll give it to her,” Ahcan said.
Join our daily newsletter, BSW Daily, to receive our coverage, right in your inbox! Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive all the stories from the day It is a free and easy way to get real and original Boston sports coverage sent directly to your email. Click here to join BSW daily today!
You can also follow us on Twitter to get stories and highlights on your feed:
Click here to follow us on Twitter!