Barclay Goodrow's celebration following his game-tying goal against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night said it all.
The look on his face as he fist pumped following the shorthanded tally was one of exhilaration, coming in arguably the biggest spot of his 86-game, four-year NHL career.
It was also, perhaps, one of relief, as if to say he'd finally made it.
Goodrow played 60 games as an undrafted rookie three years ago, suiting up for a shorthanded Sharks squad that was San Jose's first to miss the postseason in a decade. He spent the next two years in San Jose, but with the AHL's Barracuda.
There, Goodrow established himself as a reliable regular for head coach Roy Sommer, and scored 45 goals over the last two seasons. He was even named an AHL All-Star in 2015-16.
The 24-year-old looked to be a bit of a long shot to make the Sharks out of training camp this summer, and failing to do so could've meant the end of his time in San Jose, as Goodrow would need to be waived in order to get sent down to the AHL.
That scenario never presented itself, and Goodrow not only made the team out of camp, but has become a regular for the Sharks when healthy.
For the first time in his career, San Jose has the puck more than their opponents with Goodrow on the ice. In fact, the Sharks' five-on-five possession numbers (corsi-for, or shot attempts, percentage) is 4.48 percent better with Goodrow on the ice than when he's off of entering Thursday night's game, according to Corsica Hockey.
That's the third-best mark among San Jose forwards, and fifth-best on the team, according to Corsica Hockey. Goodrow himself is driving much of it, with only four Sharks attempting shots at a higher rate than him during five-on-five play, and four generating shots on goal at a higher rate.
Goodrow's been fortunate, too, starting a career-high percentage of his non-neutral zone shifts in the offensive zone. Plus, the Sharks have converted on 8.16 percent of their shots and stopped 94.87 percent of opponent's shots when Goodrow's played during five-on-five, the third and fourth-highest of any San Jose player this season.
Luck, however, can't explain away Goodrow's emergence this season. It's only been nine games, but he's made the most of his opportunity, all while lining up as a center for the first time in his professional career.
So far, Goodrow's exceeded expectations. Maintaining his performance is the difficult part, but doesn't make his start any less impressive, or surprising.