Zajac flying with Devils

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

Travis Zajac's life could not be any better right now.

The 21-year-old Winnipeg native cracked the New Jersey Devils roster on his first try, he scored his first NHL goal in his second game, and his wingers are two guys named Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner.

Hel-lo!

"I won the lottery," Zajac, a centre, said of his impressive linemates yesterday from East Rutherford, N.J.

Drawing an NHL salary is also similar to winning the lottery, but Zajac sounds like a young man who would gladly give up the cash for the memories he has accumulated over the last four days.

Zajac potted his first career goal Saturday night in Dallas against the Stars. The power-play marker in the second period was New Jersey's only goal in a 3-1 loss.

Goaltender Martin Brodeur fired the puck up the glass to Zach Parise, Parise got it to Sergei Brylin, and Brylin found Zajac, who made no mistake in beating Marty Turco.

'EXCITING'

"It was definitely pretty exciting when I scored," said Zajac, who was New Jersey's first-round pick, 20th overall, in 2004. "It was kind of a relief to get that first one out of the way.

"It's a big accomplishment, and hopefully it can give me some confidence going into the next couple games here."

Parise scooped up the puck for Zajac, and it's tucked away safely at Devils headquarters. It's not on a mantel yet, because Zajac is still living in a hotel.

Another memorable moment occurred the night before in Raleigh, N.C., as the Devils opened their season -- and Zajac started his NHL career -- against the defending champion Carolina Hurricanes.

Even better was the fact that the Devils won 4-0.

Zajac, who spent the past two winters playing for the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, will always remembers his first faceoff, which came against 19-year veteran Rod Brind'Amour.

"He beat me clean," Zajac admitted with a laugh. "I didn't even get my stick down before the puck was back to the defenceman."

The Devils have the next two days off before playing their home-opener on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Zajac's dad, Tom, will be in attendance at Continental Airlines Arena, as will several of Zajac's friends from Winnipeg.

Tom will also stick around to watch New Jersey's home game on Saturday against Philadelphia and Monday's game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Zajac also hopes to hang around the Meadowlands, but for a much longer period of time. Head coach Claude Julien hasn't exactly told him what the future holds.

"They still really haven't told me anything, so we're just taking it day-by-day," Zajac said. "There's still a long way to go for me, definitely a lot of learning."


Videos

Photos