Flames’ dynamic duo strikes again
Playmaker Gaudreau sets up Monahan for overtime winner against Canadiens
Calgary Flames head MONTREAL coach Glen Gulutzan was thinking pass … to another guy.
Johnny Gaudreau is oh so dangerous in three-on-three overtime, and as the superstar left winger entered enemy territory during Thursday’s bonus period at Bell Centre, it seemed like everybody in the building had one eyeball on Flames blue liner TJ Brodie, his passing option on a two-on-one rush.
Gaudreau, though, had spotted his buddy Sean Monahan trailing the play. Monahan coverted Gaudreau’s pass to score the game-winner as Calgary’s dynamic duo clinched a 3-2 overtime triumph against the host Montreal Canadiens.
“When that play was going on, I’m just hoping that Johnny is going to make the play over to TJ,” Gulutzan said.
“I was, ‘C’mon, make it, make it, make it.’ And all of a sudden, Monny is there out of nowhere, and I’m like, ‘Ok, that’s better.’ And then it goes in.”
With Monahan, it always seems to go in.
The 23-year-old alternate captain tallied twice Thursday and now has a team-leading 17 goals, five of the game-winning variety.
“I was just thinking, ‘I better score, because Johnny will be upset if I don’t,’” Monahan said.
“When Johnny has the puck there, he has patience like no other. I actually thought on that one that he wasn’t going to pass it to me. He wasn’t even looking at me. And then at the last second, he gives it to me and I had an open net. That’s the treat of playing with Johnny.”
And what were the rest of the guys thinking?
“I think, if you watch the bench when Johnny had the puck going down, the whole bench stood up,” said Flames right winger Garnet Hathaway, who scored a key goal of his own and was sporting the Calgary Police Service cowboy hat in a jubilant locker-room.
“You know Johnny is going to make a play. And you know Monny doesn’t really miss from there.”
It was a happy ending to a twogames-in-two-nights getaway for the crew from Calgary, who return home with three of a possible four points and now own a 15-12-2 record on the season.
Making just his second start at the NHL level, backup netminder David Rittich outdueled Habs stalwart Carey Price with a 35save performance.
With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Rittich stood his ground as Shea Weber — the three-time reigning winner of the hardest shot competition at the NHL’s annual all-star weekend — uncorked a slapper.
Price wasn’t easy to solve, either, but Thursday’s turning point was undoubtedly a successful challenge by the Flames on Hathaway’s tying tally at the 7:49 mark of the third period.
Trailing 2-1 at the time, the Flames swarmed Price’s crease after a wraparound attempt, with Hathaway, Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski all jamming away.
The puck finally trickled across the goal-line, but it was immediately waved off by the referee on the scene.
The zebras congregated for a chat and confirmed the initial call, announcing no goal due to “incidental contact” with the masked man.
With video coach Jamie Pringle in his ear, Gulutzan wasn’t buying it.
The Flames challenged and after a video review, officials changed their mind. Good goal. Hathaway, recalled last week from the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, was credited with his first big-league bingo of the season.
Gulutzan celebrated with a fist pump.
“We were jacked up after that second goal,” Gulutzan said. “We just told our guys between the second and third — ‘Listen, this is going to be off somebody or it’s going to be jammed in. We have to find a way to get to that net,’ and Hath and Benny and those guys did it. We got a lot of juice after that.”
Monahan opened Thursday’s scoring with a superb individual effort.
He won a faceoff back to Flames captain Mark Giordano and then made a beeline toward the blue paint in search of a rebound. Although his first effort squirted wide, he corralled the puck and scored on a low shot that banked off Price’s glove.
Nobody will be talking about that marker, though. Not after his latest game-winner. Daniel Carr and Phillip Danault scored for the hosts.
Next up for the Flames is Saturday’s date with the Vancouver Canucks at the Saddledome (8 p.m., CBC/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
Ice chips: Flames RW Jaromir Jagr missed a second consecutive contest due to a nagging lower-body injury … The Flames were also without LW Matthew Tkachuk, who served a one-game suspension for Wednesday’s spearing incident in Toronto.
Habs goalie Carey Price hugs the post as Micheal Ferland cruises through his crease in pursuit of the puck during Thursday night’s action in Montreal. The Flames beat Montreal 3-2 in overtime.