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This article was published 30/3/2018 (1550 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CHICAGO — Scott Foster played some shinny with the boys Thursday night but it was back to the grind Friday morning.
It’s tax season, a hectic time for the Chicago number cruncher, but forgive him if his mind isn’t on work for awhile. He just had his 14 minutes of fame and the only numbers likely swimming around in his head are 90, seven and zero.
That’s his Chicago Blackhawks sweater number, the number of shots he faced from the visiting Winnipeg Jets while making his NHL goaltending debut Thursday at United Center, and the number of pucks they got past him.
The 36-year-old accountant, a former U.S. college netminder who plays beer-league hockey a few times a week at Johnny’s IceHouse in midwest Chicago, was pressed into service with just under six minutes gone in the final period when the second of two Blackhawks’ masked men became damaged goods.
Foster now owns a perfect 1.00 career NHL save percentage, Chicago posted a rather easy 6-2 victory over Winnipeg and the Jets are tied to one of the feel-good stories of the 2017-18 season.
"I’m going to remember this one for a long time. A few hours ago I was sitting on my computer typing on the 10-key, and now I’m standing in front of you guys just finished 14-and-a-half minutes of NHL hockey. I think I’m just about hitting my prime," said Foster, joking while being swarmed by media in the Chicago locker room.
"This is something that no one can ever take away from me. It’s something I can go home and tell my kids and they can tell their friends, just a ton of fun and a lot of good memories."
The playoff-bound Jets, kicking off a four-game trip, were dreadful from the opening puck drop, falling behind 2-0 after the first period — a result of some careless defensive work by the blue-line pairing of Dustin Byfuglien and Joe Morrow.
Chicago, who will miss the post-season for the first time in more than a decade, dominated the game, peppering Winnipeg goalie Eric Comrie with 42 shots.
While it was Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook’s night to be feted for his milestone 1,000th NHL game, Foster stole the spotlight. Fans chanted his name over and over, and he was named the game’s first start.
It was near impossible for someone not to be impressed, and even moved, when the ordinary Joe pulled off the extraordinary.
"A great moment for him. He made some saves," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. "(The Blackhawks) got faster and understood it’s tough for anybody to come in (46) minutes into a hockey game, let alone a guy who hasn’t played a game in the NHL."
Chicago, playing without No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford (upper body) since Dec. 23, was set to start Anton Forsberg before he injured himself during what was described by Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville as a "pre-game ritual."
Collin Delia, who was recalled from the AHL on Wednesday, 48 hours after backstopping the Rockford IceHogs to a 4-2 win over the Manitoba Moose, was pegged to start. He allowed two goals on 27 shots but cramped up in the final period and had to be helped of the ice.
Enter Foster, who signed an amateur tryout contract just minutes before the game. Every NHL city has at least one one local goalie in the building ready to fill in for either team in the case of an emergency.
The Sarnia, Ont., product, who plays recreation-league hockey in Chicago, played in the 2002-03 NCAA season at Western Michigan University.
‘Hawks fans went crazy when he came off the bench, and the decibel level only intensified each time he made a save. Among those was his first-ever stop, coming off the stick of Tyler Myers, and he also turned aside a wrister from 43-goal scorer Patrik Laine and a shot in tight from Paul Stastny.
Goaltender Steve Mason is on the trip and is expected to get a start, likely one of the back-to-backs in either Ottawa Monday or Tuesday in Montreal.
Mason, who has battled a pair of concussions and a knee injury, hasn’t played since March 6, the night of Patrik Laine’s natural hat trick in New York, when he stopped 31 shots to register a 3-0 shutout of the Rangers.
"Getting better, getting strong," Maurice said Friday. "I think we’re looking (to this coming week) of him playing."
Defenceman Jacob Trouba (concussion) was cleared to play Monday and has been bugging his coach to get back into the lineup.
"He has ripped the door off... he wants in," said Maurice. "We’ll talk about it for Saturday (against the Leafs)."
Rookie forward Jack Roslovic has been a healthy scratch for six games but will likely play at least once in Eastern Canada, Maurice said.
Although he didn’t have a particularly fruitful Thursday — he was a minus-two on the night — Morrow has been a pleasant surprise since he was acquired on Feb. 26.
The 6-0, 195-pound defenceman, who hails from Edmonton, was picked up late on trade-deadline day from the Montreal Canadiens for a fourth-round pick in this summer’s NHL draft as an insurance policy, an extra body in case of injuries on the back end.
But with Dmitry Kulikov (back), Toby Enstrom (lower body) and Trouba all missing time, Morrow has played in 13 games, averaging about 12 minutes per game. When Nashville hit town last Sunday, he played just under 17 minutes and was even busier against Boston on Thursday, playing just under 20 minutes.
He’s got a goal and four assists since his arrival and is a plus-four.
"He can skate, and the other thing we’ve found is he can really shoot the puck. He’s got a hard, hard, quick shot on him," said Maurice.
"We’ve moved him around a little bit, he’s played left, he’s played right. His skating ability — he’s not Nik Ehlers — but for a defenceman he’ll go back, touch it and move it very quickly, very efficiently, and that’s a big chunk of what we do."
A highly touted junior out of Portland of the WHL, Morrow is a former first-round pick (23rd overall) of Pittsburgh who has bounced from the Penguins to the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins and Canadiens organizations.
Morrow, a restricted free agent this summer, said he’s really enjoying the fit with Winnipeg.
"I’m been very pleased so far. It’s kind of hard not being impressed by how this team plays. It’s an honour to be a part of it at this time of year," he said.
"Everybody has worked so hard to get into this position, so whenever I get slotted into the lineup I just try not to disappoint anybody.
"I wanted to come in and get someone’s attention. Toward the end of the season it’s about getting an opportunity to kind of showcase yourself, prove you belong and can fit in with the organization and how the team plays."
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