Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Finally finds the twine

Jets forward Thorburn gets monkey off back with first goal of season

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Chris Thorburn isn't fooling himself. He understands, probably better than anyone, what his strengths and weaknesses are and what kind of game he has to play to be a National Hockey League regular.

A candidate for the Rocket Richard Trophy, he is not.

But he can say this: He sure as heck hopes he doesn't go another 60 games between goals.

"You know what? I haven't had that feeling in a while," said Thorburn, after scoring the Jets' only goal in Tuesday's 2-1 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. "I tell you what, there's not many feelings like that. I actually turned to the corner for my celebration and no one came to me. It kind of felt odd. It was great, it was awesome.

"It's a sense of relief, but at the same time it gives me the confidence to know I can do it. I can get a good shot away and give myself a chance to score. It's not like I haven't been getting chances. Lately, I've been getting a lot of chances, I just haven't been able to find the back of the net."

He certainly did against the Flyers, rifling home a pass from Nik Antropov that went glove side over Ilya Bryzgalov. When it was suggested that was a goal-scorer's goal, Thorburn grinned:

"Thank you. I appreciate that."

Interestingly, head coach Claude Noel's decision to sit Thorburn for a game earlier this month may have paid dividends. Since watching the Jets fall to New Jersey earlier this month, Thorburn has continued to bring his bash and crash, feisty game to the rink but has also been generating some offensive chances. It's just none of them were crossing the goal-line -- until Tuesday.

"Chris puts a lot of pressure on himself and he was really down," said Noel. "I think sometimes it's healthy just to watch games. I mean. he was playing hard and doing the right things, but he's just hard on himself. It'll come back around. He's been playing better of late and eventually it finds its way.

"He's been good the last four games or so and in practice he's been working hard, putting in extra time and I think its helped him. I tried to remain fairly positive with him and just keep going. It gets long after a while but that was a big goal for us. It's a good monkey to get off his back."

Just for the record, Thorburn's last goal came back on March 29, 2011 -- as an Atlanta Thrasher -- in a game in Buffalo.

In typical Thorburn style -- nobody on the Jets has a better sense of humour -- he offered up this about his last goal.

"I don't even want to go back that far," said Thorburn. "It's been a while. I think I had one in training camp or... I had one in practice. So I'll take that one."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2012 D3

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