CALGARY — It was a triumphant return to the crease for Canucks journeyman goaltender Richard Bachman.
The 32-year-old was solid in his first game in nearly nine months after having his Achilles tendon severed by a skate last December, making 36 saves to backstop Vancouver to a 3-2 overtime win against the Calgary Flames.
Vancouver trailed 30-7 on the shot clock after two periods, but were down just 2-0.
Mitch Eliot’s goal made it 2-1 five minutes into the third and Jake Virtanen tied it at 15:41, firing a wrist shot past Cam Talbot. Virtanen won it 1:32 into overtime, beating Talbot again, this time on a two-on-one.
"He was just standing on his head all game. He kept us in it," Virtanen said of Bachman. "You never want to leave your goalie hung out to try, but we kinda did. But I’ve played with (Bachman) before in Utica (AHL) and played against him. You know what you’re going to get from him. He’s a small goalie, but he works his (butt) off."
Bachman’s season-ending injury happened on Dec. 21. His surgery was on Christmas Eve. That was followed by six months of gruelling rehab.
"I owe a lot of credit to my wife," Bachman said. "Just keeping me sane there, the first couple months, especially when I was in the walking boot. I’ve got two little kids (age 2 and 4) and they’re trying to play and I can’t even put my foot on the ground."
The long road back made the victory that much more satisfying, he said.
"That’s why we play," Bachman said. "Whether it’s pre-season, summer hockey, getting wins out there, that’s the best feeling — so it’s good to be back."
With 48 games on his NHL resume, coming with the Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars, Bachman said training camp is different for a veteran.
"My first goal was just to play at a high level and see how it felt," said Bachman. "I want to prove that I an still play at this level in the NHL, but I also want to help these young kids coming up. I’ve been around, I’ve seen a lot of different situations, up, down, been in a lot of different cities, just trying to help these guys acclimate a little bit quicker."
While Bachman was shining at one end, there were mixed results at the other end.
David Rittich got the start and faced only four shots in his 32-plus minutes of action. Cam Talbot came on in relief and yielded three goals on nine shots in his Flames debut.
Talbot was shaky on the first two goals.
Eliot’s was a slapshot that dribbled through his pads and Virtanen’s first goal beat him short-side from a sharp angle.
It was one of two split-squad games between the Pacific Division rivals on Monday. The two sides also met in Victoria, B.C., where Calgary won 4-3.
Calgary took a 2-0 lead at 15:02 of the second when Sam Bennett laid a hit, stole the puck and set up Frolik.
Bennett was skating in the vacant spot on the second line that normally belongs to unsigned restricted free agent Matthew Tkachuk, who continues to sit out.
"I thought that line had some good shifts, (Bennett) is a guy that can go up and down the lineup, play either wing and compliment lots of different types of players," said Flames coach Bill Peters. "I thought they had some good moments tonight for sure."