Los Angeles Kings prospect Matt Moulson got the birthday present that many dream of.
He got “the call.”
On Thursday — his 24th birthday — the 6-foot-1, 210-pound forward was showering after practice with the Manchester Monarchs, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Kings, when his name was called.
“I was coming out of the shower, I thought it was [Brian] Boyle calling my name, but it was coach.”
Moulson quickly realized it was Monarchs’ head coach Mark Morris, which only added to the stress of the situation.
“Then I thought coach was calling me into his office to yell at me, but he was calling me to tell me I was going up.
“I asked him if he was serious and he said he was and then I lost my legs for a while,” Moulson recalled after the Kings’ 5-2 win at San Jose on Friday night. “I mean I am serious, I couldn’t feel my legs for a while.”
Apparently, it didn’t take that long for the rookie’s nervousness to end.
"I was just trying to think about calming my nerves down out there," Moulson told the Associated Press after the game. "It felt good to get on the ice and just try to concentrate on the game."
A couple of the Kings’ veterans helped in that department.
“[Scott] Thornton and Army (Derek Armstrong) were the best things for me, they both kept telling me to calm down and kept telling me that I was doing a good job.”
Those words took shape in the second period, as Moulson scored his first NHL goal, in his first NHL game, giving the Kings a 2-1 lead.
“It was a great forecheck by Army and [Michal] Handzus got in there and Handszie, he gave me a great pass in the slot,” Moulson told LAKings.com of his first NHL goal.
“I think my eyes [might have been] closed when I shot it.”
Regardless, it was a goal for the Kings, giving Los Angeles the lead, 2-1, beating the highly celebrated Evgeni Nabokov, despite the Kings being outshot, 32-15, at the time.
How big was the rookie’s goal?
It sparked the Kings to a 5-2 win as Dustin Brown scored twice and Ladislav Nagy also lit the lamp for a Kings 5-2 win at San Jose.
Moulson reflected on the last few days.
“It was a whirlwind the last few days, probably the best days I have had ever. I am feeling pretty on top of the world," he said. “I don’t think I have ever had a grin that wide when I scored that goal."
The rookie is enjoying the moment, however, realizing that this same San Jose team that earned 107 points will be ready for them Saturday at Staples Center.
“We are going to put this win behind us and prepare for [Saturday],” though the rookie admitted, “I am excited to play at Staples Center, I have never even played an exhibition game there.”