With the net empty and the Calgary Flames up by a pair, Johnny Gaudreau hesitated for a second after Elias Lindholm sprung him with a flip pass.
Lindholm had two goals on the night already and Gaudreau was looking to set him up for the hat-trick. He made a quick extra move to buy some time as a defender caught him, then he did the right thing and deposited the puck into the empty cage for the team’s sixth goal of the evening.
Those right decisions have come more often than not as the Calgary Flames have piled up eight straight victories – including Wednesday night’s 7-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
So have the goals.
Since a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 27, the Flames have outscored their last eight opponents 37-13.
And while most would be wowed by the top number – an average of 4.6 goals per game – one of the main reasons for the Calgary Flames’ success is the pride they take in the lower number against.
Their feverish forecheck, relentless return to the defensive zone and impressive possession metrics has made them a tough team to score on. And that’s without mentioning the Vezina-calibre goaltending they are often getting from Jacob Markstrom.
“It’s hard not to like it,” Gaudreau said after the morning skate of his team’s play during the streak. A rare podium smile crossed his face. “Every line’s producing. Our (defencemen) are is playing really well. Our goaltending’s been great. There’s things throughout the games that we can clean up. But from what I’ve been seeing, it’s been a lot of fun being on the ice.
“Any line that’s going out, there’s a chance to put the puck in the net. It’s a lot of fun to watch and a lot of fun to be a part of.”
The same was true on Wednesday night. After going 13 games without a goal, Dillon Dube scored early, for the second time in two nights.
Lindholm padded the lead on the powerplay and then added his second less than two minutes after Sonny Milano cut the lead in half.
Matthew Tkachuk, Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane also piled on in the convincing performance. But it was defence that kicked things off, with some inspired penalty killing as the Calgary Flames spent six of their first eight minutes killing penalties.
“I think our killers did an awesome job,” said head coach Darryl Sutter, noting the efforts of Markstrom, Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev.
“Noah and Tanny both took a beating during that kill. For sure it’s the difference in the game.”
The Flames played the night before. It was an emotional debut for new winger Tyler Toffoli. He scored in his first game as a Flame and heard the crowd chanting his name. The Ducks came in fresh, with loads of young and talented offensive players.
But it’s tough to beat the Flames right now.
Just ask their last eight opponents.