November 1, 2013

First NHL goal provides redemption, relief for Soderberg

By Jesse Connolly

Linemates Chris Kelly and Ryan Spooner picked up the assists on Carl Soderberg's first career goal in the NHL Thursday night. (Getty Images)

If you're simply counting regular-season games, a dozen contests doesn't seem like an eternity to wait to score your first NHL goal. When it takes you over nine calendar years to reach that 12-game mark, however, that's a different story.

Nearly a decade removed from being drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2004, Carl Soderberg finally potted a puck as a member of the National Hockey League on Thursday night, tallying for the Bruins in their 3-2 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden. 

The goal comes more than six years after Boston traded goaltender Hannu Toivonen to St. Louis to acquire the winger, who remained in his native Sweden until this past spring. 

"It means a lot to me," said Soderberg, who now has 1-3-4 totals in six games this season. "I’ve been playing in Europe for ten years at the highest level there but it’s still not the NHL. I came here at 28 years old so I wanted to see if I could play in the NHL. I’m pretty glad I scored."

The Bruins called up center Ryan Spooner early Thursday in hopes of boosting their offense. Spooner subbed in for Jordan Caron on the third line alongside Soderberg and Chris Kelly. The move paid off. 

Spooner sparked a rush that began in the Bruins' defensive zone, sending the puck up to Kelly at center ice. No. 23 made a one-touch pass to Soderberg, who streaked in on Jonas Hiller and managed to get a backhander to trickle past him.

"It’s funny what a goal can do to your confidence and the morale and how you’re feeling," Kelly said. "You could see, just sitting beside him on the bench, it looked like the weight was lifted off of his shoulders. I know he’s been forcing and pushing hard. Sometimes they come easier than others but I thought he did a great job defensively a few shifts before that saving a goal and then got rewarded."

 The night initially got off to a bad start for Soderberg. His attempt to send the puck out near the B's blue line less than two minutes into the contest was picked off by Devante Smith-Pelly, who rifled a shot past Tuukka Rask to give Anaheim an early 1-0 lead.

Soderberg battled back and got some redemption on his second-period goal, which tied the game back up at one apiece.

"That’s what you want to see. And everyone knows he made a mistake by throwing it in the middle, but he goes back and ties the game up so it kind of wipes the slate pretty clean in my mind and you go from there," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. 

Soderberg wiped the slate clean in the short term, atoning for his miscue, and in the long term by finally putting the burden of scoring his first NHL goal behiind him. The skilled winger needed just two words to describe how he felt as he lifted his arms straight into the air to celebrate his tally.

"Maybe relief."

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ