Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty entered Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning with 26 assists on the season. His 27th was a beauty, perfectly setting up a goal.
Alas, it won’t count in his season total. Because it set up a goal for the Lightning.
In the first period, the Habs and Bolts were playing 4-on-4 hockey after Alex Galchenyuk and Victor Hedman were off on coincidental minors. The Canadiens were changing. Pacioretty apparently believed that the left defenseman wasn’t part of that change, and sent a pass back to his own zone …
… to where Steven Stamkos was standing, ready to receive the turnover. He skated in as P.K Subban and Andrei Markov scrambled to cover, and blasted a perfectly placed slapper past Carey Price for the 2-1 lead.
In case you're wondering: This is not an offside play. Via Rule 83.1 from the NHL:
If a player legally carries or passes the puck back into his own defending zone while a player of the opposing team is in such defending zone, the off-side shall be ignored and play permitted to continue.
The Lightning won the game, 4-2, as Stamkos would later add another goal, No. 39.
As for Pacioretty … well, that image of him on one knee at the red line, looking wistfully back at his own zone after handing one of the most lethal snipers on Earth a gift scoring chance … well, it make us a little misty.
Poor guy. But he gets a check-plus for sharing.