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Calgary Flames

Johnny Hockey homecoming has unhappy ending for Flames



Calgary Flames Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk are two stars on a top heavy team

Darryl Sutter said earlier this year that Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau had a shooter’s mentality. Amped up to play against his childhood favourite Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, Gaudreau proved his head coach correct.

The only problem? His shooting percentage was a zero.

Gaudreau fired a career-high 10 shots at the Flyers net but got none past goaltender Carter Hart as the Calgary Flames fell 2-1 in overtime.

Yes, another ‘loser point’ for the Flames, who fell to 1-1-2 after four of seven games on this eastern road swing.

It was a fun game to watch with lots of action.

Jacob Markstrom made a double-stacked pad save on a penalty shot for Scott Laughton. Noah Hanifin and James van Reimsdyk hit posts for their respective teams.

“It was a back-and-forth game. The goaltenders both played really well,” Gaudreau said after the game. “We had a lot of opportunities to score tonight and didn’t put them in. It cost us the game.”

Goal drought continues for streaky Flames scorers

Goals have been hard to come by for them lately. Discounting their four-score outburst against the depleted Ottawa Senators on Sunday, the Flames have managed five goals in their last four games – all losses but two coming in OT.

“When you have that many good looks, you’ve got to find the net. Our line was pretty productive in the offensive zone. I thought we did a really good job,” said Gaudreau. “We’ve just got to find a way to put the puck in the net.”

Gaudreau had a good look at the winner by Cam Atkinson. After the puck squeezed past Gaudreau on the boards in the offensive zone, Sean Couturier collected it and distanced himself from the Flames winger quickly to get a two-on-one rush with Atkinson. Couturier took a shot and Atkinson pounced on the rebound.

A clearly gassed Gaudreau had given up on getting back by then.

He wasn’t a one-zone wonder on the night, though. He made a number of good defensive plays before extra time, including a nice little stick check on Laughton to prevent a good scoring chance with less than two minutes to go in regulation.

Kylington goal gives Calgary Flames first-period lead

The Flames took the lead in the first period when Oliver Kylington’s shot – assisted by none other than Gaudreau – took a hop off a Flyers player and beat Hart.

But Gaudreau’s Boston College teammate Kevin Hayes tied things up to help spoil Johnny’s COVID-delayed homecoming in Philly.

Hayes scored his first of the season in the second period and signaled skyward in a tribute to his late brother Jimmy.

Kevin was playing in just his second game back with the Flyers this season after two abdominal surgeries. His centring pass bounced right back to him off Rasmus Andersson’s block and Hayes had an open net to fire at as Markstrom was already heading to the other side of his crease in anticipation.

Gaudreau had mixed feelings seeing such an emotional moment on the ice that also happened to put his team in a tough spot.

“Personally happy, really, really happy for him. He’s gone through a lot these past few months,” said Gaudreau. “It’s hard, he’s on the other team, so I don’t want them to score, but was happy for him, he deserved it.”

Earlier in the day, Gaudreau talked a little about their relationship.

“I’m just really happy for him to start playing here again. He loves playing here in Philly. He loves the guys in the locker-room. It’s great to see him back on the ice. I’m excited for him,” Gaudreau said.

“We’ve been really good friends for a long time. A good person and a great family and love spending time with those guys.”

Duo accounts for more than half of Flames shots

Gaudreau and linemate Elias Lindholm paced the Flames with 18 of the team’s 34 shots. Tkachuk, the other member of the top line, finished with no shots and two second-period penalties.

Gaudreau was clearly eager to put on a show for his family and friends watching in the stands. He grew up in Salem, NJ, about 40 miles south of Philly.

“I was excited. Excited to play in front of a lot of people that supported me for so long,” said Gaudreau. “I’m not going to waste their time when they come out to watch me and have a bad game. I just tried to work hard and do my thing on the ice.”

His show just needs a little work on the finish.

“He was good. He looked really good. Right away from the start he was feeling it,” said Lindholm. “He had the puck a lot and obviously when he has the puck, it’s dangerous out there. He had a good game.

“Too bad none of those shots went in.”

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