CALGARY — No one in the Calgary Flames dressing room could remember ever seeing it before.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a fight when the shovelers are out there,” said Milan Lucic.
“I’ve never seen that before either,” added Cam Talbot. “I thought he was fighting the goalie for a second. I was ready.”
In the midst of a tremendous second–period comeback to which he contributed a rare goal, Zac Rinaldo chipped in with something even rarer.
The hit was not whistled for a penalty, but the discourse between the two ruffians continued down towards the Kings goal during a TV timeout when they suddenly dropped the mitts, earning them both a game misconduct.
“I was watching the girls shovel the ice – they were terrified as the guys started dropping the gloves,” said Flames coach Geoff Ward.
“He brought great energy tonight.”
And some great storytelling.
“I knew I had to be accountable for that hit and I had no problem doing it – I just didn’t think we’d do it during the TV timeout,” said Rinaldo, who drew into the lineup in lieu of struggling Mark Jankowski.
“He asked me to go. I said, ‘Cliffy, they’re shovelling the ice. We can’t go right now. He said, ‘we have to go.’ I said, ‘(Screw) it, let’s go.
“We have the same agent, and he said, ‘if you’re in (the lineup) fight anybody, but just don’t fight Clifford.’ I’m like, ‘ya no problem.’ Sure enough, that’s the way it happens.”
It didn’t last long, but it sure spiced up a Saddledome that had gone deathly quiet early on when Drew Doughty’s goal and assist gave the Kings an early 2-0 lead.
Cue the comeback for a team that has won 11 of its last possible 12 points, thanks to a 4-3 win over LA.
Rinaldo’s first goal in over a year was symbolic of a night the Flames’ depth charges took over.
Oh sure, Sean Monahan’s goal that put the Flames up 3-2 midway through the second period was vintage Johnny Gaudreau, who capped an end-to-end rush with a great pass finished by his pal.
But the heroes of the night resided on the Flames third line, where call-up Dillon Dube scored his third goal in his last five outings and Milan Lucic scored for the second consecutive game.
It’s exactly that type of scoring depth that was supposed to be one of the Flames’ biggest strengths this year.
Of late, it has been.
“When you finally get one that’s all it takes,” chuckled Lucic, proud to score the 200th of his career against the same team he scored his first on. “Sometimes it’s like the flick of a switch and all of a sudden it’s going your way again.”
Sure seems to be, as their line, centred by Derek Ryan, was again the best on the ice, based largely on hard work.
“We play the right way – we’re hard on the forecheck,” said Dube, whose roommate in Stockton to start the year was Rinaldo. “It’s not the prettiest, but right now it’s working. You’re a hard team to play against when everyone is contributing.”
Everyone sure is right now, including Talbot who made his first appearance in nine games, stopping 30 shots. His best of the night came at the most crucial time, with a five-bell glove save on Matt Roy with 75 seconds left.
“There weren’t a lot of shots but he made some huge saves when we needed him in the end,” said Ward.
“When we got down two-nothing, there was no panic, the guys just kept going to work, they kept talking to each other on the bench, it was real upbeat and I thought the guys did a really good job responding after going down and starting with a strong, strong second period.”
You can bet Talbot will see more action soon as the Flames leave Sunday for a two-games in two nights trip through Colorado and Arizona starting Monday.