It was a memorable moment at centre ice at Rogers Place on May 7.
Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi, leading the stretch on his 23rd birthday, heard his teammates break out into “Happy Birthday.”
The right winger showed he can also be a music critic.
“I think there is a couple good ones and a couple really bad ones,” said Puljujarvi of his pals’ singing voices.
When Puljujarvi hasn’t been blowing out candles, he’s been lighting the lamp. He’s up to 15 goals on the season, having scored seven times in the last 15 games. Recently, he’s been able to fire home some one-timers on passes from Connor McDavid.
“The goalie can’t be that ready if you shoot that fast,” said Puljujarvi.
“I try to shoot lots. Sometimes it’s a good shot, sometimes it’s not that good. Hopefully, I get those good shots more.”
“If you give any goalies in this league a chance to get up, get set and looking at you and you’re dusting it off, he has a much better chance of saving it,” explained head coach Dave Tippett.
“Getting it off quick sometimes isn’t as accurate as you like it, but I think it’s more effective because it doesn’t allow the goaltender to set up.”
Puljujarvi is known for his gigantic smile after an Oilers goal. Does he get a bigger kick out of his own goals or his teammates’ goals?
“I’m always excited. When I score, it’s fun. It’s fun to win the games.”
It’s been huge turnaround for Puljujarvi. Two years ago, it looked like he and the Oilers wouldn’t reconcile. Now he’s one of the team’s key players.
“I’m really happy for Jesse,” said Nashville Predators defenceman Matt Benning, who played for the Oilers from 2016-2020. “We lived together my first year.
“He’s a great kid. He works so hard.
“I think his first couple of years, it was a little bit intimidating. Going from the European-style of game to North American-style game is quite hard.”
The Oilers play their final regular season game Saturday against Vancouver.
The Face-off Show on 630 CHED is at noon with the game starting at 1:30 p.m. Mikko Koskinen will start in goal.