He didn’t know the general manager who traded him just months ago was in the building watching, but when Viktor Stalberg found out Toronto head man Brian Burke was present, a smile came across his face.
“That obviously makes it a little bit more fun,” Stalberg said of his game-winning overtime goal. “It’s fun obviously to show him a little bit but he’s a great guy and I have nothing against him.”
Stalberg helped the Chicago Blackhawks end a four-game home losing skid with their 3-2 overtime win over the Ducks, but just as important, he may have helped his team exorcise some third-period demons.
The Hawks gave up yet another 40-minute lead when Corey Perry scored in the third period to tie the game 2-2. This time, though, the Hawks prevailed.
“It’s going to happen,” Stalberg said, “I think we did a good job responding. The last couple of games we’ve been sitting back on our heels. Even if they get that third period goal, we’re the ones pushing the pace and we got rewarded.”
The shots on goal advantage prove Stalberg’s point. It was 43-26 in favor of the home team.
Unlike the night before, when Quenneville said an overtime penalty prevented Stalberg from seeing the ice in the extra period, the Hawks forward was able to get a shift after his team killed off Tomas Kopecky’s boarding call.
“I don’t play on special teams and there was something like 15 combined penalties [on Saturday] so it was nice to get out there,” Stalberg said.
After the game, Quenneville wouldn’t go so far as to say Stalberg was close to not making the team out of training camp, but admitted, just as Stalberg did, he had a slow start to his Hawks career. Six goals later and with a spot on the Hawks top line, Stalberg is feeling more confident.
“I feel like I can make a mistake and I’m not going to get down on myself for doing it,” he said. “When something happens they get on me but I’m out there next shift playing. At the beginning of the year, that might not be the case.”
Stalberg heard the press hot prospect Jeremy Morin was receiving and thought his job might be in jeopardy.
“It crossed my mind, especially with everyone talking about it and writing about it and hearing it on the news,” Stalberg said.
Lucky for the Hawks, he made the team, and on Sunday, he helped them to a much-needed victory.
“It felt good. We needed this one,” Stalberg said.