New Jersey Devils center Joseph Blandisi (64) scores his first NHL goal against Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson (41) in the first period at the Prudential Center. Newark, NJ 1/21/16 (Saed Hindash | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
NEWARK — This is all you need to know about Devils’ rookie Joe Blandisi: He thought it was an unacceptably-long slump before he finally scored his first NHL goal. It required some assurance from assistant coach Geoff Ward that the goal would come soon.
How long did it take for the 21-year-old from Markham, Ontario? Nine games.
“A huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve been waiting for it every game I’ve played,” Blandisi said after getting the goal in the first period of Thursday night’s 6-3 winover the Ottawa Senators at Prudential Center. “I just wanted to get it out of the way. Hopefully now they’ll come in bunches.”
Clearly, he has the drive to complement the talent.
“I think everybody grows up and dreams about their first NHL goal,” linemate Kyle Palmieri said. “For my first one I didn’t have to wait that long, but even before you make it to the National Hockey League it’s something you dream of. You turn pro and it gets a little more tangible. It’s, ‘I just have to make it to that top level and hopefully achieve that dream.’
“It’s a great night for him.”
It happened to be the Devils’ first goal in a five-goal opening period. Defenseman David Schlemko drilled a shot that Blandisi redirected while cutting across the slot.
“It was pretty much ‘thank god.’ I couldn’t miss that one. There was an open net there,’ Blandisi said. “Schlemmer made a great play to find my stick. I pretty much knew when the puck was headed in my direction I wasn’t going to miss that one.
“Definitely a dream come true. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve worked pretty hard for it. I’ve been generating a lot of chances, so I just tried to stick with it the best I could. Finally that worked paid off tonight.”
Joseph Blandisi with his first NHL goal tonight vs Ottawa. He also added 2 assist for good measure. Congrats Blender pic.twitter.com/UQkRkZ847I
— NJDSk8Guy (@NJDSk8Guy) January 22, 2016
What he did not mention was that he also had two assists on goals by Palmieri and Travis Zajac.
“Everything was working. It was one of those nights where everything was finding the back of the net,” said Blandisi, signed as a free agent by the Devils Jan. 14, 2015. “I’ve been on the other end of that, too. I’m just happy to have this night finally.”
Palmieri said: “Obviously me and Trav have been playing together for a while. I think Blando has come in and he’s been a little spark for us and he adds a little bit of speed to our line.”
Asked if someone got him the puck, Blandisi said: “I hope so. It’s a pretty big thing, I guess. I’m going to hopefully bring it home to my family. It’s definitely an accomplishment.
“I’m just looking forward to staying up here as long as I can.”