Flames Weekly: Incredible Comeback, Gaudreau’s 40th & More

Flames Weekly offers a look at how the Calgary Flames performed in the previous week. Be sure to check in every Monday for my take on the week that was, and to find out which storylines and players took center stage. Feel free to use the comment section below to let me know how you thought the team performed or post any ideas or questions about the Flames.

Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames Weekly

After the Flames clinched the Pacific Division last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the final week of the regular season. Would head coach Darryl Sutter rest his top guys? Would we see any prospects get a quick audition with the big club? Would the backup start every game between the pipes to give the number one guy a rest? The answers to all of these burning questions were no, no and no respectively, as it was very much business as usual for the boys in red.

Flames Beat Predators in Overtime in Wildly Entertaining Game

In what was billed as a potential first round preview, the Flames and Predators put on quite a show on Tuesday night in Music City. The tilt could have easily been mistaken for a playoff game, as the atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena was absolutely electric and featured huge hits, heavyweight fights and plenty of emotion. Calgary and Nashville traded goals back and forth all night, but none were bigger than Matthew Tkachuk‘s game-tying tally, scored with just 0.1 seconds left in regulation.

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The literal last-second goal knotted the game at four aside just six minutes after former Flames’ netminder David Rittich entered the game stone-cold to replace an injured Juuse Saros. Just two minutes into extra time, Elias Lindholm potted the overtime winner, completing an epic comeback and sending reeling Predator fans home wondering what the heck just happened.

Related: Current Flames Squad Much Deeper Than 2019 Playoff Duds

Milan Lucic had a very big night: he scored a point, dropped the gloves against the Preds’ Mark Borowiecki and then laid a bone-crushing hit on Matt Duchene that sent Nashville’s leading goalscorer’s helmet flying, and the internet ablaze. After the game, the big man admitted that the wildly entertaining game was one of his all-time favorites. “I’ve got to say, I’ve played over 1,000 games now and that’s probably (one of the) top five games I’ve been a part of, with the goals, the hits, the fights, the emotion, the crowd,” said Lucic.

Gaudreau Joins the 40-Goal Club as Flames Fall to Wild in Overtime

The Flames’ week didn’t get any easier on Thursday, as they faced off against a surging Minnesota Wild squad in St. Paul. With almost every Calgary roster player hitting some kind of milestone or career high in points this season, there was still one very intriguing storyline left hanging in the balance. Would Johnny Gaudreau join linemates Tkachuk and Lindholm in the coveted 40-goal club? After neither team scored in the first frame, Gaudreau put the burning question to rest early in the second period.

Ultimately, Calgary couldn’t hold the lead and ended up falling to the Wild 3-2 in overtime, but after the game, all of the buzz was about the team making history. The last time an NHL squad had all three members of a forward line score 40 goals each was 28 years ago, and who was the last team to pull off this impressive feat? It was the 1993-94 Flames and that terrific goalscoring trio featuring Gary Roberts (41), Theo Fleury (40) and Robert Reichel (40).

Flames Close out Season with 3-1 Loss in Winnipeg

You might think the Flames had nothing to play for in their 82nd and final game of the 2021-22 regular season, but you would be wrong. A win in their last contest of the campaign would lock up second place overall in the West and secure home ice straight through to the Western Conference Final (if the mighty Colorado Avalanche were to fall). Just three minutes into the first frame, things were trending in Calgary’s direction after a breakaway goal by Tkachuk got the visitors on the board.

The Jets tied the game up with just 13 seconds left in the frame, then took the lead for a good six minutes into the second stanza. The Flames looked gassed by the third period, which can certainly happen while playing three times in four nights. Backup netminder Dan Vladar got the start, and the young Czech actually held his team in the contest, stopping 40 of 42 shots. A late empty netter gave Winnipeg the 3-1 victory and thus closed the book on Calgary’s 2021-22 regular season. They finished with a record of 50-21-11 and 111 points, the second most in franchise history.

The Week’s Winners and Losers

  • After Tuesday night’s very entertaining tilt against the Predators, a lot of Flames fans were hoping to see Nashville and Calgary face off in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And, if you checked the NHL scoreboard on Friday night, you probably would have bet the farm that the Preds would snatch the first wild card spot after going up 4-0 on the worst team in the Western Conference. I’m sorry, but you would have lost that farm. In an epic collapse, the Predators allowed the Arizona Coyotes to score five unanswered goals to win 5-4 in regulation. With Dallas’ win over the Ducks, the Stars got the first wild card, while Nashville must now take on the Avalanche.

Related: Flames Need Milan Lucic to Step Up for the Playoffs

  • Gaudreau’s 2021-22 campaign has been one for the ages, as the speedy winger just put together the second most impressive point total in Flames’ franchise history. I hope you’re not tired of hearing about No. 13’s numerous accomplishments, because I’m about to lay a few more on you. This season saw “Johnny Hockey” become just the 14th player in NHL history to score 90 even-strength points, joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Guy Lafleur. He also just wrapped up his year with a plus-64 rating, the best since Gretzky in 1986-87. And if that’s not enough for you, Gaudreau has 11 more even strength points than Connor McDavid in 193 fewer even strength minutes played. Incredible.
  • The accolades for the Flames’ farm team just keep on coming. This week, Stockton Heat players Dustin Wolf and Jakob Pelletier were both named to the American Hockey League’s All Rookie Team, making them the first representatives since the 2016-17 season. Wolf told the media that he couldn’t have done it without a lot of support, “It means a lot. It goes back to our coaching staff and teammates, I don’t get any recognition if it wasn’t for them.”
  • Flames defenceman Chris Tanev was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, as selected by the Calgary chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The award is given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The previously injury-prone Tanev has a enjoyed a career year in Calgary, and played in all 82 games this season, which is the first time the veteran defender has suited up for more than 70 games. The award is named after the late Bill Masterton, who passed away in 1968 following injuries sustained in a game.
  • Playoff tickets can be a tough get, but you don’t have to be inside the Scotiabank Saddledome to watch the game in a literal C of Red. This week, the Flames announced that the Red Lot Community Viewing Party on the Stampede Grounds is back for the 2022 postseason. Up to 5,000 fans can watch the game live on a giant screen, free of charge. The party will be open to fans of all ages and will feature music, interactive stations, prizes and food and beverages. The event was first introduced during Calgary’s last playoff run and brought out big crowds.

Flames’ Week Ahead

After two years of the NHL playoffs being shuffled around because of COVID-19, the best “second season” in pro sports is finally back in its usual early May time slot. The Flames kick off their first round series against the Dallas Stars Tuesday night with Game 1 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. They’ll drop the puck on Game 2 Thursday night before the series moves to Big D for Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 next Monday. If necessary, Game 5 will be back in Cowtown on Wednesday, May 11.

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