CALGARY -- After capping off the biggest comeback in postseason franchise history last night in Game 3 - and after all the hockey hugs and fist bumps and everything that comes with a dramatic overtime victory - Shea Theodore went to his changing-room stall and looked at his phone. He saw a bombardment of text messages and notifications reminding him of his team's incredible performance - and his own, too.
"I read this morning that this was the biggest comeback in Ducks history," Theodore said today after the team's optional practice at Scotiabank Saddledome. "To be a part of something like that is pretty special. Especially with how we rallied and overcame that deficit is huge."
As one of Anaheim's most highly touted prospects, Theodore has had flashes of brilliance at the NHL level, but never has he done what he did last night. In front of a hostile and raucous "C of Red" inside the 19,000-plus seat Saddledome, Theodore scored not once, but twice to keep the Ducks alive. As of now, Theodore leads all defensemen in postseason scoring (5 points, 2g/3a) and is just one point shy of the overall league lead currently held by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.
"The crowd last night was pretty crazy," Theodore said. "For me, it was about getting pucks on net and doing the simple things. Bounces went my way last night."
His first goal came when the Ducks so desperately needed a sign - anything, really, to get them back on track. At the time, they were reeling. The Flames were winning every board battle, getting to every loose puck and controlling the pace of the game. Leave it to the rookie, all of 21 years of age, to bring them back.
Joining the rush, Theodore took in a pass from Rickard Rakell just outside the offensive zone. He carried the puck into the zone and let off what seemed like a harmless wrist shot toward veteran goaltender Brian Elliott from the top of the left circle. As Theodore's shot made its way on net, Elliott got into position and held up his glove only to see it tip off the edge of it and into the top corner. The goal made it a 4-2 game with 48.2 seconds remaining in the second period and the mood in the stands became tense.
Video: ANA@CGY, Gm3: Theodore's wrister finds twine
After Nate Thompson cut the deficit to 4-3 with a deft deflection on Hampus Lindholm's point shot with 8:43 remaining in regulation, Theodore delivered once more.
With less than five minutes left on the clock, Kevin Bieksa shuttled a pass across to Theodore, who used the patience of a grizzled veteran to wait for a shooting lane to open. It was a seeing-eye shot that somehow snuck through bodies in front - and one Elliott had trouble tracking. His shot sailed over Elliott's glove and into the top corner of the net, tying the game in glorious, epic fashion. His teammates swarmed him. What was once a 4-1 deficit was now a brand new game.
Video: ANA@CGY, Gm3: Theodore ties it with his second goal
It took only 90 seconds in overtime for the Ducks to break the hearts of Flames fans when Perry - heckled heavily before the game - came through with the game-winning goal off a bank shot from the boards.
So how did Theodore, who admittedly had a few hair-raising moments in the d-zone at times, have the poise to overcome such adversity? International competition helps.
"World Juniors was a pressured stage for sure," Theodore said, reflecting on his gold-medal run with Team Canada in 2015. "Playing in front of a home crowd in Toronto was definitely pretty crazy. Last night was a crazy atmosphere as well."
Theodore said his dad, Cam, usually watches his games the following day because of his work schedule as a sawmill millwright. It's safe to say his dad woke up to a few spoilers on his phone.
"My dad kinda slept through the whole thing," Theodore said with a laugh. "He goes to bed pretty early. I'm sure he woke up to a couple of text messages.
"He has to get up at three o'clock every morning for work. An eight o'clock [p.m.] start is not too friendly for his work schedule, but he's been there ever since I was four years old. You're not going to find anyone more proud than him right now."