Patrick Dwyer had 'em booing in Toronto.
Not long after Dwyer tipped in Joni Pitkanen's shot with 4:26 left Tuesday night to give the Canes a 3-2 lead over the Maple Leafs, the booing began in the Air Canada Centre as the home fans expressed their displeasure. There were a couple of excited fans in the house, however — Dwyer's parents, who came from Wisconsin to see the game, to see their son play.
It was Dwyer's fourth career NHL goal. It also proved to be his first game-winner as the Canes won 4-2, making it a very special evening for Dwyer, who began the season with the Albany River Rats (AHL) but has played 21 games this season for the Canes.
"You know you're only going to get so many shots to make an impact," Dwyer said. "You've got to make a good impression when you do get a shot. Right now I feel like I'm playing pretty well and I'm happy with the way it's going."
Dwyer, 26, has filled in well for injured forward Chad LaRose and been a near mirror-image on the ice. Like LaRose, he's small (5-11, 175 pounds) but feisty. He's active as a penalty killer and a pest at even strength.
"He's very smart and his speed allows him to take some chances," Canes coach Paul Maurice said.
Dwyer had the primary assist Sunday on Rod Brind'Amour's winning goal against Ottawa. He then picked up a winner of his own Tuesday by flashing past defenseman Luke Schenn and beating goalie Jonas Gustavsson with a perfect tip.
"It felt good," he said. "It makes you feel it was all worth it."
Consider that Dwyer was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2002. He played collegiately at Western Michigan and then for the Chicago Wolves (AHL), but eventually signed as a free agent with the Canes in July 2006, noting, "There weren't a lot of teams knocking on the door."
Not the Thrashers. They weren't interested.
"I don't know if there was a more disappointing time than when Atlanta didn't want to sign me," Dwyer said. "My love of the game kept me going. I just kept going and pushing through it. Maybe that was the motivation I needed."
Dwyer said his parents will be in Detroit on Thursday night to see him play against the Red Wing. He'd like to hear to a few more boos in Joe Louis Arena from the home fans -- and those cheers from the folks.