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37 FOR 37: 7-UP

Russian rookie Sergei Makarov put on a clinic in Edmonton, setting a team record for most points in a game that still stands today

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Sorting through the debris field, in the aftermath of the carnage, an impish Sergei Makarov held a hush-hush, strictly-on-the-QT finger up to his lips.

"Russian secret,'' teased the 30-year-old rookie. "On the day before the game, you relax in the territory of the enemy."

That stretch of hostile terrain would've been West Edmonton Mall, where the long-time right winger on the Soviet Union's fabled KLM Line - in a bit of an upgrade from Moscow's GUM department store, facing Red Square - had done a bit of shopping and sightseeing.

Only a day later, Makarov - in the midst of his first NHL season after being pried away from Red Army of the Soviet Elite League - made Northlands Coliseum his personal Fantasyland.

Among evenings of individual accomplishment in Flames' annals, Feb. 25, 1990 ranks near the summit.

Consider the opponent. Take into account the venue. And do a double-take on that juicy scoreline: Calgary 10, Edmonton Oilers 4.

"That night,'' the left-winger on the slick Soviet's line, Gary Roberts, recalled, "Sergei did whatever he wanted.

"He really put on a show.

"You just get yourself in a good position and he's going to get you the puck."

Nearing 26 years later, Makarov's seven-point binge - two goals, five helpers - still stands as the Flames franchise single-game scoring record.

The previous standard of six had been jointly held by eight players.

A sellout throng of 20,000-plus at Northlands was grudging witness to an incredible performance.

Not absolutely all was sublime. On Makarov's first goal, he used the ol' Soviet foot wedge to prod the puck into the net, much to the ire of Edmonton's starting goaltender, Pokey Reddick.

"Yes,'' Makarov would admit later, "I kicked it in. But I'm not the referee."

For 60 minutes, though, he was everything else.

Scorer. Provider. Lightning rod. 

Both Roberts and the centre on the line, future Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk, each benefited from the stocky Soviet's sublime way with a pass to score twice.

So hypnotic was Makarov's performance that defenceman Gary Suter's five-assist performance - one shy of the franchise best set by Guy Chouinard nine years earlier - was virtually lost in the tumult.

"There's no way to explain it,'' reasoned Calgary boss Terry Crisp. "There was no rhyme or reason to it.

"It was one of those nights where everything they touched turn to lead and everything we touched turned to gold."

Sergei Makarov being pure 24-karat.

"I used to score six or seven points regularly in the Soviet Union," he reasoned. "It's especially nice against Edmonton - I am getting caught up in the rivalry."

Makarov would go on to register 86 points and be named a controversial winner of the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top freshman, beating such soon-to-be household hockey names as Jeremy Roenick, Rod Brind'Amour, Mike Modano and Mark Recchi to the hardware.

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