Disney called it the Knuckle Puck.
Chris Tanev had another name for it.
“Screwball, maybe,” laughed the veteran defenceman on the 140-foot shot he potted for his first goal as a Calgary Flame.
“Initially it was knuckling, but it bounced really weird at the blue line and again right before it went in. You can name it whatever you want and run with it.”
Call it timely, for one thing.
A mere seven seconds after Elias Lindholm won the opening faceoff of the second period Monday in Winnipeg, Tanev fired the puck from behind his own blue line in an attempt to spring Dillon Dube. Instead, well, we’ll let him tell the story, as it’s a tale he’ll be asked about for decades to come.
“We’re trying to hit Dubes on a little breakaway play off the initial draw and it went through a few legs and sticks and took a fortunate bounce before it hit (Vezina Trophy-winning Jets goalie Connor) Hellebuyck,” said Tanev.
“I was shocked it went in, to be honest. We’ll take it. It was good to get on the board because we didn’t really have much in the first.”
Down 2-0 due to a pair of Kyle Connor power-play goals in the first, Tanev’s seeing-eye shot helped turn the Flames’ fortunes around into what ultimately ended up being a wild, 4-3 shootout win over the Jets on Monday.
Johnny Gaudreau’s early third period goal tied the game, before he eventually won it on a double-clutch deke as the Flames fourth shooter.
Between his two goals, the Flames dominated the third period on a night in which the visitors out-chanced the Jets 17-4 in 5-on-5 high-danger opportunities
Victims of a few bad bounces of late themselves, the Flames made no apologies that the turning point came on a Hail Mary pass.
“It’s a big spark,” said coach Geoff Ward, whose club faces Winnipeg again two of the next three nights.
“Those things happen in hockey. The ice is a little wet and bounces happen. It was lucky for us and it got us back into the hockey game. With the lack of puck luck we’ve had in some other games… I think we had eight goals all last year that went in off our players, and we had six in our first six games (this year). So, we’ve been in the situation where we’ve seen the other side of it. It did give us a little momentum.”
Gaudreau’s conversion of a brilliant Juuso Valimaki pass seven minutes into the third was followed by what seemed like an inevitability seven minutes later when Andrew Mangiapane potted his first of the year.
“You could tell the ice kind of tilted after we scored there,” said Gaudreau of his sixth goal, which gave the Flames new life with a series of hastily formed line combinations.
“We had four, five, six really good chances to make it 3-2 and finally the little man got one for us and we took a 3-2 lead.”
Mark Scheifele appeared to spoil another solid effort by Jacob Markstrom (25 saves) when he tied the game with the goalie pulled and 1:50 remaining, setting up a frenetic overtime period that ultimately led to Gaudreau’s heroics in the skills competition.
Sean Monahan and Connor were the only players to score in the first six shooters, which strangely included Josh Leivo ahead of No. 13.
Alas, Gaudreau made several slick moves to open up Hellebuyck’s pads for a forehand he placed perfectly between them.
“Johnny is a little guy but he’s pretty good,” laughed Mangiapane, with a chuckling Gaudreau by his side.
“Obviously, he’s making things happen.”
BENNY AND THE JETS
Hours before puck drop, the topic du jour continued to be Sam Bennett, whose agent told Elliotte Freidman on the weekend his client would like a “change of scenery.” Problem is, the agent forgot to tell the Flames. Either way, the distraction is real as Bennett decides how he’s going to address this publicly.
Everybody has a thought, including coach Ward.
“I know some things have been said about maybe he wasn’t happy where he was playing, this and that,” said Ward, who promoted Bennett to the Gaudreau/Monahan line as a reward for solid play late in Monday’s win.
“At the beginning of the season, and what a lot of people don’t know, I basically gave Sam the choice of where he wanted to play. He wanted to start at centre and so we started him at centre. He came in after a couple of games and said, ‘Hey, I think I may want to take the other option,’ which was playing on the wing. We gave him a choice to play in two different positions at the start of the year. So before anybody jumps all over that as to reasons why he may be unhappy, let’s just quell that right now.”
Don’t expect Bennett to be made available to speak by the club on game day, Tuesday.
“I don’t think it’s a concern for us,” said Dube of the noise and speculation surrounding Bennett’s future as Flame.
“You know he’s going to put everything out there on the ice. You know that it’s not going to change anything. He obviously has to make the most out of it, and I’m excited to see him out there. You know he’s going to have a chip on his shoulder, and that’s when he is playing his best. So there’s absolutely no concern for us.”