Philadelphia Flyers Claude Giroux drags the puck around Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (right) to score the winning shoot out goal in NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday March 10, 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
TORONTO - One word describes Claude Giroux's shootout goal Saturday night in Toronto.
"Dirty—one of the nicest I've ever seen," said Philadelphia Flyers teammate Scott Hartnell. "It couldn't happen to a better guy and it's a big two points for us."
Giroux's highlight-reel shootout winner was the only puck that found the back of the net all evening as the Flyers beat the Maple Leafs 1-0.
Philadelphia's star centre came in with speed on his forehand, faked goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to the far corner, then pulled the puck back in tight with the goalie sprawled out and the net wide open, and tucked it up top.
"It's a move I've been practising and I just felt it was a good opportunity to try it," Giroux said. "It's the kind of move that if you miss it you look a little bizarre, but it ended up working, so I ended up looking good."
Giroux modelled the move from watching one of the NHL's slickest shooters, and even named it after him.
"(I call it) 'The Datsyuk,'" he said, referring to Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk. "I saw him do it a couple times and he's got some pretty sick moves. I've been working on it since I was young."
Though Giroux left him helpless with the move, Gustavsson couldn't help but be impressed with the goal.
"Sometimes you've just got to give skill guys credit," he said. "Of course I'd like to stop it, but it was a great move and got them their win."
At the other end, goalie Ilya Brygalov said he's faced that move before, but never thought he'd see Giroux try it out in a game.
"It's not fair," Bryzgalov said. "He did couple times (in practice). I saw that. But he cannot do that in a game. It's unreal."
The goal is just one more highlight in what has been a spectacular season for Giroux. After former captain Mike Richards and sniper Jeff Carter were traded in the off-season, Giroux was slotted to assume the first-line centre role, and he hasn't disappointed. He sits third overall in NHL scoring with 24 goals and 79 points in 63 games.
"He's so unbelievably talented, when he gets into situations like that, and creative," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "I've seen him pull that out of his bag one other time. It was nice a goal. He came in with a lot of speed, got the goalie down, kept going and roofed it. It was beautiful.
Toronto's Joey Crabb appreciated the goal as well, but would've preferred Giroux do one thing differently.
"I wish he would have pulled that against a different team."