Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau showed anyone still talking about Jack Eichel why the Calgary Flames didn’t need the former Buffalo Sabres captain.
Tkachuk capped an impressive night for himself and his team with an incredible goal to give him four points on the night. Gaudreau had two goals and three points as the Flames racked up 37 shots in the 6-0 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
It was Jacob Markstrom’s fourth shutout of the season.
We knew it was just a matter of time before Tkachuk exploded.
First period: Flames avoid getting out-Foxed
The opening frame was captivating if only because it featured one of the greatest sports sequences between hostile fans and a player that scorned them. Calgary Flames fans loudly booed New York Rangers defenceman Adam Fox at every opportunity. The Norris Trophy winning blueliner forced his way out of town before ever playing a game for the Flames – refusing to sign in 2016 with the NHL team that drafted him.
Fox always wanted to play for the Rangers, and also wouldn’t sign with the Carolina Hurricanes after the Flames traded his rights as part of a package that brought in Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. The Flames got great value in the trade. Fox went to his preferred Rangers and the Hurricanes lost Dougie Hamilton in free agency last summer.
Meanwhile, Lindholm and Hanifin are important core pieces for the Flames.
But back to the Fox hatred. Hearing the booing, Fox did his best Hulk Hogan impression to taunt the crowd after he scored an impressive goal late in the period, dangling his way to the doorstep and then roofing his shot. The only problem was the zone entry was offside.
Cue the hostile crowd again. They chanted, “Fox, you suck!” in celebration.
Meanwhile, the Flames got yet another powerplay goal from Sean Monahan to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission. Matthew Tkachuk set him up with a great pass from the left side.
Second period: Flames feed off energy to expand on lead
The game really took on a playoff-like tone with post-whistle scrums and a spontaneous scrap punctuating some really fast play.
There were goals, too. The Calgary Flames grabbed a 3-0 lead on Brad Richardson’s first with the team (in just his second game) and Gaudreau’s third of the year. It was actually Gaudreau’s third goal in the past five games – he has been heating up around the net and adding to his already impressive offensive totals to start the year.
Gudbranson set a physical tone with a big hit on Barclay Goodrow early in the period. He also joined a scrum as the Flames rushed to the defence of Andrew Mangiapane, who got in Ryan Reaves’ face after the big Rangers winger dealt him a glancing blow to the head.
Emerging from the scrum to throw some punches were Gudbranson and Jarred Tinordi.
The Flames had more shots in the second period (16) than the Rangers had over the first 40 minutes combined (14) but needed goaltender Jacob Markstrom to make some timely saves, too.
Markstrom was dialled in despite the lighter workload, stopping Chris Kreider on a great feed from Ryan Strome to keep his shutout intact.
Third period: Another shutout victory for Markstrom with plenty of support
Markstrom was the early star with his impressive stop on Strome in the opening minute. The Calgary Flames goaltender reached back with the glove to cover his post as Strome shot at the wide-open cage from just above the goal-line.
The Swedish goaltender came through every time he was needed. But it was Gaudreau and Tkachuk who really dominated for the Flames on the night.
Gaudreau scored his second goal of the evening on the rush. He fanned a bit on his backhand attempt – but the puck still slipped past Igor Shesterkin to give the home side a 4-0 lead.
Milan Lucic made it a five-goal spread with a fluttering puck beating the Rangers goalie after the shot hit the defender’s stick.
Tkachuk piled on with a between-the-legs beauty to make it 6-0.