Elias Lindholm looked skyward after he opened the scoring early in the second period of the Calgary Flames’ home finale.
But it was a look of relief, not celebration, that first appeared across his face in the Hockey Night in Canada closer against the Vancouver Canucks.
It was his 40th goal of the season, but it seemed like he was stuck on 39 forever.
In reality, Lindholm had only gone three games without scoring. And for the record, he’s only gone goal-less for more than three games on four occasions this season.
But having missed on some spectacular opportunities with six shots in Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars, the ‘about damn time’ look was understandable. It’s the first time he’s reached that milestone in nine NHL seasons.
A strong candidate for the Selke Trophy as a dependable two-way player with dynamic offensive numbers, Lindholm is having his most impressive NHL season.
Hamilton trade paying dividends for Lindholm and Flames
His journey since joining the Calgary Flames has been a spectacular one. The 27-year-old Swede has dialled in offensively in his four years here, coming over in the Dougie Hamilton trade with the Carolina Hurricanes
His 40 goals and 79 points are both career highs. Lindholm will fall shy of the personal-best 51 assists he posted in his first year with the Flames in 2018-19. But he’s cemented his status as one of the team’s best triggermen. He joined linemate Matthew Tkachuk as the second Flames player to hit 40 this year.
His rocket to the top shelf on the powerplay to give the Calgary Flames a 1-0 lead 2:44 into the second frame was impossible to stop. His lightning-quick release and laser accuracy left no doubt, despite the talents of Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko.
Lindholm talked little about the potential milestone in the days leading up to Saturday’s contest.
“It’s obviously a good number. It’s nice if I can get there,” Lindholm told Flames TV this week. “Just gotta keep working, keep creating chances and keep shooting. Sooner or later, maybe I’ll hit it.”
He earned it.
And the number may help his hardware chances, too.