Gagner's great night a 'lesson to never set limits'
Well, at least he did for one night. Gagner lit up the Chicago Blackhawks with four goals and four assists Thursday night, authoring the 15th eight-point game in NHL history (Darryl Sittler's 10-point bonanza is technically the 16th).
"I wouldn't be in the same breath as Gretzky or Coffey, if it was anything but this," Gagner told reporters after the game. "It is a great lesson to never set limits. The great players that have played here before never did that, and I was never thinking about that tonight. I was just looking at continuing to play and we just kept scoring. It was crazy."
There are a number of, well, numbers that make Gagner's night even more extraordinary. He's only the second guy to accomplish the feat in game where his team "only" scored eight goals. He nearly doubled his goal output for the season. He's the first guy to put up an eight-spot since 1989 -- three official decades ago.
When Mario Lemieux had eight points on April 25, 1989 (one of only two eight-point efforts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs), Sam Gagner was still over three months from being born, on Aug. 10. Neither of his linemates who helped him collect the eight points, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, had been born yet, either.
"What an amazing night," Eberle tweeted after the game. "You guys should of seen [Sam's] face after his 8th point. #completelyshocked"
Added Hall on Twitter: "What a night, I still can't believe what happened. Congrats to Sam. Must have been Cabo eh bro!"
Hall also posted a picture of him and Gagner from their trip to Cabo San Lucas during the All-Star break.
There have been no reports of a spike in reservations for trips to the Mexican vacation destination during next year's All-Star break, but don't be surprised if Gagner has a few more friends around the NHL who want to join him if he ends up there again in 2013. If anyone is looking for other ways to emulate Gagner, he said his breakfast Thursday morning was "same as always, oatmeal with berries."
It may have just been one magical night, but it also may have changed the course of Gagner's season. In one night he scored more points than 380 players have this season, or 45.56 percent of the League.
Gagner has scored either 41 or 42 points in each of the past three seasons. Before Thursday night he was on pace for just less than 42 points but now he's on pace for nearly 56. That would be seven more than his career high and significant step forward for a 22-year-old center still trying to prove he can be a consistent top-six guy.
"This is a great feeling," Gagner said. "Everything I shot went in. Every time I touched the puck, it seemed like I got an assist. It's a crazy feeling -- I think we scored five shifts in a row in the third period."