CALGARY — Roughly half an hour after being fitted for goat horns, Mikael Backlund received the faucet he didn’t see approaching Monday.
As a shootout between two of the world’s hottest goalies progressed to the seventh spherical, it was the Swedish veteran who received phrase he’d have an opportunity to atone for a expensive penalty that extended the sport this deep into the evening.
“You’re at all times able to get the decision to go, however with my report 0-for-7 earlier than right now, I wasn’t anticipating to get picked, actually,” beamed the Calgary Flames centre.
“However once I heard my title I received excited. I simply tried what I’ve been engaged on in apply.”
A snipe previous the glove of Pittsburgh Penguins standout Tristan Jarry set the stage for fellow Swede Jacob Markstrom to shut out an entertaining night that completed with the Flames lastly having the ability to snag the additional level with a 2-1 win.
Markstrom’s save on Brock McGinn’s tried deke despatched the gang of 15,343 residence buzzing over the first-place, 13-4-5 Flames.
“I simply checked a little bit bit earlier than, sort of the place he’s been letting objectives in,” mentioned Backlund of his pre-shot prep.
“I attempted that transfer in apply and I scored on Marky. I figured if I can rating on Marky, I can do it on this man too. It felt nice, although. House ice, too. Loved the second.”
The second was particularly candy, not simply because the Flames had beforehand dropped 5 of six after regulation this season, however as a result of he felt mainly liable for the Penguins’ lone objective.
“It was actually robust… silly penalty,” mentioned Backlund of an interference penalty subsequent to Jarry’s crease that resulted in a Jake Guentzel power-play objective seven seconds later.
“My feelings received the very best of me in entrance of the web. It’s robust to go to the field once we are up one late within the sport. Once they scored, it was robust.
“I used to be excited to get the possibility to redeem myself.”
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Backlund had performed a heck of a sport earlier than that, doing effectively to assist maintain Sidney Crosby shot-less earlier than a strong time beyond regulation displaying by which the Flames might have gained a number of occasions.
“Humorous, Mikael scores the shootout winner, however he’s most likely our greatest 3-on-3 man too,” mentioned coach Darryl Sutter, who moved his threesomes round to incorporate Backlund on his second trio with Johnny Gaudreau and Chris Tanev.
“Attempting to do one thing totally different. It’s one a part of our sport that clearly we don’t have that man who can go finish to finish or undergo guys. So simply attempting to get one thing that matches.”
If not for Jarry’s spectacular outing, which included 31 saves, the Flames would have gained this one lengthy earlier than time beyond regulation.
Johnny Gaudreau, whose high line was chic all evening, rang two off the iron, together with one in time beyond regulation. His was the one one of many first six shootout makes an attempt by the Flames to beat Jarry — a excessive, glove aspect snipe very like Backlund’s.
The one man to beat Jarry in regulation was Milan Lucic, who took a good-natured ribbing earlier within the day when Flames gamers had been requested about idolizing Crosby as children.
So many children crowd across the rink when Sid exhibits up. Lovable pic.twitter.com/ejryxJraxa
— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) November 30, 2021
“After I was 9 or 10 years outdated, I got here to the Dome to observe (Crosby) in pre-game skate — it was fairly cool,” mentioned Dillon Dube, 23, who casually turned his journey down reminiscence lane to the person sitting subsequent to him.
“However it’s even cooler enjoying with Milan Lucic, who was by far my favorite participant once I was 10 years outdated. It’s higher sitting beside him.”
It drew on the spot chuckles from Lucic, who received the final giggle later within the night when his objective halfway by way of the second interval, a five-hole snipe previous Jarry, seemed prefer it would possibly simply arise because the winner.
“I used to be truly trying to transfer that to (Trevor Lewis) however him and (Mike) Matheson received tied up there, so I used to be in a superb scoring space there. I shot as onerous as I might alongside the ice between the legs, like I’ve earlier than, and it went in once more.”
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It has turn out to be his signature transfer, as half of his six snipes this yr have come that approach.
Would he have gone five-hole if he was picked for the shootout?
“No, I undoubtedly would have combined it up if I received the faucet on the shoulder,” he laughed.
“I feel I’m across the 12, 13 slot (for shootouts). You already know what, on breakaways I’m fairly good, however for no matter purpose I’m 0-for-3 on shootouts. However I get excited across the 12 or 13 mark.”
Earlier within the day, Lucic’s first feedback on his game-ending boarding main from Saturday on Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo had been fascinating.
“Forechecking on the play and we made eye contact,” he mentioned.
“He checked out me, I checked out him. He knew I used to be coming and he put himself in a nasty spot.
“I’ll inform you what, there’s guys which have mentioned thanks to me as a result of I’ve seen them in susceptible positions and I haven’t completed them.”
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There’s duty on hitters to not hit guys in susceptible positions. However there’s additionally duty on gamers to not put themselves into susceptible positions.
“I feel DeMelo put himself right into a susceptible spot.
“The rulebook states if it’s a boarding name and if a man is reduce, it’s routinely 5 and a sport. That’s why it was 5 and a sport.”