Huberdeau The Hero For Flames In Huge 3-2 Win To Climb Past Kraken
Jonathan Huberdeau scores first game-winner for the Calgary Flames as they leapfrog the Seattle Kraken for third spot in the Pacific Division.
From outside the playoff picture to third place in the Pacific Division. That’s how massive a swing the Calgary Flames experienced on Wednesday night.
And as a sign of what may be around the corner, Jonathan Huberdeau had a huge third period to play the hero.
A lightning rod for criticism because of his slow start with his new team after the summer’s blockbuster trade brought him to Calgary, Huberdeau has been heating up.
In the 3-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken, he scored his first third-period goal of the year, which also happened to be his first game-winner.
And the victory propelled the Flames past the Kraken in the standings, beyond the wildcard slots and into third place in the division behind Vegas and Los Angeles.
Huberdeau was guilty of a defensive lapse earlier in the game, with Jamie Oleksiak pinching in and scoring a go-ahead goal just 1:14 into the second period.
That prompted Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter to take a timeout to get his players to focus.
"He acted and we needed that at the time. We weren't ready," said defenceman Rasmus Andersson on Sportsnet during the second intermission.
Later in the frame, linemate Nazem Kadri tipped an Elias Lindholm shot through Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer on the powerplay to tie the game at 2-2 heading into the third period.
Huberdeau’s winner came after an earlier rejection by the Kraken netminder, who had the angle on a shot from in close after collecting the rebound from a denied Milan Lucic attempt.
He made a quick spin and fired an accurate shot high blocker before Grubauer knew the puck was released.
“He’s been sniping me and Marky (Jacob Markstrom) in practice, so we knew it was just a matter of time," Flames goalie Dan Vladar told Postmedia's Danny Austin post-game when asked about Huberdeau's big goal.
It was his seventh of the season and he now has seven points in his last five games — looking a lot more like the 115-point player with the Florida Panthers last season.
The Flames got off to a good start in the latter half of their back-to-back back-to-back sets split up by the Christmas break. Yes, you read that right. They played consecutive nights in Los Angeles and Anaheim before the brief break, then in Calgary and Seattle on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
Tyler Toffoli gave them the early lead a little more than six minutes into the game, digging out the puck in the crease and stuffing it into the net to open the scoring.
With 44 shots — the second straight night with more than 40 on goal — the Flames got more traffic in front of Grubauer than they did the Oilers’ Stuart Skinner the previous evening.
Dan Vladar got the start for the Flames and made 29 saves on 31 shots for his first win since Dec. 7. He does have at least a point in seven straight starts, however, as he continues to be a solid option on nights the team rests Jacob Markstrom.