Some things never change.
Justin Williams, the man nicknamed “Mr. Game 7” for his clutch ability to pull out the best performances in the most critical moments, did so once again on Sunday against the New York Islanders in his return debut. Called upon for the eighth round of the shootout Williams delivered with a simple five-hole shot that fooled Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss who never got a chance to drop to the butterfly position.
Perhaps it was his distance from the net that fooled Greiss into complacency, but regardless, the eighth-year Hurricane caused the already-standing home crowd to jump with jubilation. The save from James Reimer on Islanders captain Anders Lee at the other end sealed the win for Carolina and sent the fans into pandemonium.
As for the traditional ‘Storm Surge’ following home wins, Williams was featured in the middle of the circle, saluting the veterans on military appreciation night with his teammates.
Just a couple of weeks earlier, Caniacs were uncertain if No. 14 would ever don an NHL uniform again. The 18-year veteran announced he was stepping away from the game in September reportedly due to a lack of motivation and “apparent indecision” about his NHL future.
But on Jan. 11, the Hurricanes brought back their former captain on a one-year deal. Reports came out the day prior that Carolina had issued their final offer to Williams’ camp. When he was shown at the Hurricanes’ game against the Flyers on Jan. 11 in Raleigh with team owner Tom Dundon, fans began to wonder if a reunion was in sight.
The announcement of Williams’ return came just moments after the Canes captured the overtime win but the exact game in which he would return was still up in the air.
Well, that day came against the Islanders on Sunday and although he was relatively quiet during regulation and overtime, his impact made the difference in the shootout victory, earning him the third star of the game honor.
Williams has 786 career points (1245 games) and 305 in 430 games as a Carolina Hurricane.
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