Matthew Tkachuk's latest trick shot caps monumental win for Flames

Jacob Markstrom made 28 saves for the shutout and Mikael Backlund picked up four points as the Calgary Flames blanked the Vegas Golden Knights 6-0.

CALGARY -- In the final frame of a statement game by the Calgary Flames, Matthew Tkachuk put an exclamation mark on the proceedings.

He wasn’t wearing a blindfold, nor was he adorned in Dodgeball silks.

But the way he wielded his stick to craft his 21st goal of the season was just the latest in a long line of new-age finishes Trevor Zegras set a gold standard with on the weekend.

Standing at the side of the net with both feet on the red line, Tkachuk took a pass from behind the net with one magical motion that saw him place the stick and puck between his legs for a roof job Robin Lehner didn’t even move for.

As the crowd sprung to its feet, Tkachuk flashed a Cheshire Cat grin while outstretching both arms with a how-you-like-me-now celly.

A dozen years ago it would have earned him a Sher-Wood Sandwich.

In today’s game it earns him top billing on TikTok, YouTube and Twitter.

It wasn’t the first time Tkachuk has gone between his legs, as he’d previously finished such a play a half dozen times before.

His most famous of such snipes came at the buzzer in Nashville two years earlier when he roofed the winner with a one-timer from above the hash marks that is arguably the most incredible goal scored in Flames lore.

What made Tuesday night’s finish such a talker was that it was the cherry on top of a monumental 6-0 win over a surging Vegas club Darryl Sutter said earlier in the day is the team to beat in the Pacific.

It also came a handful of hours after Tkachuk and Milan Lucic talked about the type of trick shots that have inspired a whole new generation of hockey players to try using their stick as a magician’s wand.

“I’m sure if you go to a rink in Calgary a bunch of 10-year-olds will be trying that stuff,” said Tkachuk, who finished the night with three points. “Most of us that have played for five or 10 years or longer, nobody was really doing that stuff.

"Through the legs was as creative as we were getting. Now there’s all this stuff behind the net, picking it up.”

On a night when a handful of Flames pieced together significant performances, Jacob Markstrom took centre stage, extending his league-leading shutout total to eight -- a number that hasn’t been reached since 2018-19 when Sergei Bobrovsky finished with nine and Marc-Andre Fleury had eight.

This one was a 28-save jobby that included a handful of stunners on Nolan Patrick in the second period of a game the Flames essentially clinched with a 3-0 first period lead.

Asked if he saw the victory as a statement game, Sutter interjected.

“A Jacob Markstrom statement game,” said the coach who groused about how the Flames followed a dominant first period with a ho-hum second.

“It was really about a 6-5 game.”

Mikael Backlund paced the second line with his first career four-point effort, helping linemate Andrew Mangiapane score twice in a game capped by Tkachuk delivering the game puck to Markstrom, who is now just two shutouts away from Miikka Kiprusoff’s team record.

Quite a way to start the second half of the season, giving the Flames four wins in a row to kickstart a seven-game homestand.

Asked whether a move like Tkachuk’s would bother him if scored against him, the game’s first star smiled.

“Obviously I like all goals we score,” said Markstrom, whose first game in a week included just five shots in the first. “It’s a great move, especially when the puck is behind the net and the goalie was looking on the other side. Nowadays most goalies have their skates on both posts, so it’s a quick play to get it over the pad.

“I’m not surprised. He does all that stuff in practices as well as games, so it was good to see it go in.”

Asked about his snipe, Tkachuk shrugged.

“It’s just the quickest way I could get the shot off,” he said.

Milan Lucic said before the game he loved seeing Zegras’ creativity at the all-star game, but admitted he wasn’t a fan of those moves in a game.

“In a game, for me, even if another guy on your team pulls it off it can kind of get the emotions going on the other side, if you get what I’m saying,” said Lucic.

On this night, the Golden Knights showed very little emotion at any point after being steamrolled in the first period and held in check from there.

“Tonight our first period really set up the game -- when you’re up 3-0 that’s really hard to come back from,” said Tkachuk, who set up a brilliant give-and-go finished by Johnny Gaudreau to open the scoring early, before Backlund and Elias Lindholm padded the lead.

“We want to make this a tough place to play and we want to be known as a great first-period team here because when you dominate like we did in the first period that doesn’t give the other team a ton of confidence.”

Sutter’s eyes lit up when asked about Tkachuk’s goal.

“Did you see Johnny in Arizona? He just about had a goal and an assist doing the same thing,” said Sutter of Gaudreau’s puck flip from behind the net he attempted to swat in as it landed in front.

“Those are high-end plays. Not everybody can try it. The guys who can try it can get it done.”

They certainly did Wednesday as all six Flames goals were skilled plays.

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