Back in black, the Calgary Flames started their home stand with a Blasty.
Sporting their sharp-looking black-based third jerseys with the flame-spewing horse head logo with the cool nickname, the Flames were fired up in a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers.
Maybe it wasn’t the jerseys. Perhaps it had something to do with the competition they were facing. Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar hosted their former team at the Saddledome for the first time.
The piece of that blockbuster NHL trade that went the other way, Matthew Tkachuk, returned to Calgary for the first time since engineering his summer exit.
The fans were all over that.
In one of the strangest receptions I can remember, the fans at the Saddledome vigilantly booed the former Flames star every time he touched the puck on the ice. But they rose to their feet and cheered loudly during the video tribute played during the first TV timeout, with Tkachuk saluting them with a raised stick while skating to the faceoff circle.
Instantly, it was back to boos.
It will likely forever be that way now.
The fans had a lot to cheer about in the first period. While shorthanded, Dillon Dube opened the scoring with his fourth of the season. The speedy winger deflected a perfect pass from Andrew Mangiapane on the fly, giving the Flames some early momentum 3:05 into the game.
Huberdeau scored the next goal on a Flames powerplay. Scooping up a loose puck during a goal-mouth scramble, the former Panther pushed it past Sergei Bobrovsky and celebrated enthusiastically.
Rasmus Andersson gave the Flames a three-goal lead at the 12:03 mar with an even-strength goal, picking the top corner on a shot from the high slot.
Things were looking good.
The second period was a bit of a letdown. Lacking the same jump they displayed in the opening 20 minutes, the Flames struggled to keep the same pace as the Panthers.
Nick Cousins eventually cut into the lead.
Brett Ritchie restored it with his fifth of the year on a bad-angle goal that looked like Bobrovsky was trying to handle a live grenade.
Then Sam Reinhart beat Dan Vladar to make things interesting heading into the third period.
The Panthers pressed in the third. Tkachuk and his teammates peppered Vladar — who had himself another solid start, but this time got the critical ‘W’ for his efforts.
Tkachuk was kept off the scoresheet.
Huberdeau wasn’t done, though.
Bobrovsky got the best of him on a breakaway deke attempt, but Huberdeau stuck with the puck and floated a perfect pass to the slot, where Tyler Toffoli put the game away with a hard slapshot, ensuring the Flames’ five-game homestand snapped a three-game losing skid.
Mangiapane got in on the fun with his fourth, finishing a two-on-nothing rush, capping off a nice night for the duo that started the scoring.