Sports sometimes stick to “Hollywood” scripting, but hockey can be stubborn. In this case, Justin Williams delivered during his return to the Carolina Hurricanes and NHL in general.
Williams closed out what was a pretty exciting, and occasional strange, shootout in Carolina’s favor. It went eight rounds, but Williams scored the shootout-deciding goal as the Hurricanes beat the Islanders 2-1.
Naturally, that wasn’t enough for this “bunch of jerks.” Williams also fittingly took center stage during the “Storm Surge,” giving a salute. You can watch those great moments in the video above this post.
More on a storybook return for Justin Williams
James Reimer made fun of our thirst for a narrative after the game.
“It was all a conspiracy from the beginning. That was the plan,” Reimer joked, via the Hurricanes’ website. “We fooled everyone.”
Really, there’s only one question about this Williams return: what took Rod Brind’Amour so long to send him out in the shootout? Just number eight? Nice sense of the moment, Rod.
(Just kidding — mostly.)
Williams made an impact on the game proper, firing three shots on goal, delivering a hit, and blocking a shot during 13:06 time on ice. Despite being a grizzled veteran at age 38, Williams faced some jitters.
“I was nervous the whole game, to be honest,” Williams said. “It was a playoff game out there. That’s what it felt like that. Teams weren’t giving an inch. There were chances either way, and it could have gone either way,” he said. “I’ve played over 1,200 of these, so I was like, ‘OK, Justin. Get real here. You can do this.’ It was fun. We got what we wanted: two points.”
Well, Brind’Amour believes Williams “fit right in.”
Speaking of people getting right back into the groove, the Hurricanes provided a fun variation on his nickname: on Sunday, Williams became “Mr. Round 8.”