SAN JOSE – It wasn’t rookie Mirco Mueller’s finest moment.
The 19-year-old defenseman’s fall at the blue line on Saturday against Chicago early in the third period allowed Brandon Saad to score on a partial breakaway, in what would hold up as the game-winner. After 40 evenly played minutes, Saad’s marker broke a 2-2 tie at 1:21 of the third, and Chicago dominated from there in a 6-2 win.
Mueller talked about the unfortunate play on Monday.
“Their guy was lobbing the puck out, and I went to kind of play it with my hand, and as I go down the puck kind of bounces 90 degrees in the other direction,” he said. “I tried to cross over and I kind of caught my skate and fell. It’s a bad bounce at the worst time of the game possible.”
Despite that turning a close game into an eventual rout, at least in terms of the scoreboard, Mueller’s teammates were there to support him.
“The thing that I was impressed with was the way the guys picked him up on the bench,” Todd McLellan said after the game. “Guys went down and tapped him and said, 'Hey, we're fine.'”
Mueller backed up that account from his head coach, revealing that Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and his fellow defensemen all offered words of encouragement.
Does that help?
“For sure. When something like that happens during that time of the year, it’s kind of frustrating and upsetting a little bit,” Mueller said. “It’s definitely nice to see that your teammates have got your back and you’re still in there.”
Pavelski said: “It happens to young guys and old guys. There are bounces, and that’s the way it worked out that night. Nobody’s blaming the game on that play. It was a momentum changer, but with that being said, we have a lot of belief in him, too. He’s played really well for us the last few weeks.”