RALEIGH — It took a moment, but reality set in on Carolina defenseman Bryan Rodney after he scored the first goal of his NHL career in the first period of the Hurricanes' 3-2 shootout win over the Washington Capitals at the RBC Center on Thursday.
"Like any goal, it takes me about 30 seconds to process that I was the one that scored," Rodney said. "I got back to the bench, and I don't think I could wipe the smile off my face if you paid me."
Rodney, 25, is in only his second NHL season. He was with the Hurricanes for 10 games in November and December, but until he was recalled for a fifth time this season on March 20, he hadn't played in an NHL game since Dec. 19.
"I thought he looked a lot more comfortable tonight," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.
In his second NHL game of this season back in November, an attempt to clear the Hurricanes' defensive zone in overtime was intercepted, leading to the New York Islanders winning and handing the Hurricanes their 14th consecutive loss on Nov. 13.
He spent another eight games with the Canes, then played the next three months with the team's AHL affiliate in Albany.
"It was a tough part of the season to be sent down," Rodney said. "You never want to leave."
Rodney had been biding his time in Albany, where he was second in scoring among defensemen, with seven goals and 28 assists in 54 games, while facing opponents' top lines.
In the meantime, other young defenseman, such as Brett Carson and Jay Harrison, have pounced on their opportunities.
Jamie McBain, the Hurricanes' first pick in the 2006 draft, a second rounder, had been called up for the March 16 contest after defenseman Tim Gleason went down. McBain also scored Thursday.
Rodney acknowledged being mildly frustrated in Albany as others got chances.
"These guys have earned their opportunity," Rodney said. "They're showing that they can play at this level. I hope I'm doing the same thing."
On Thursday, Rodney fired from the slot on Jussi Jokinen's second assist of the night.
"When the opportunity was there, we were told to join the rush and add to the attack, and you know I think I did that there," Rodney said.
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