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37 FOR 37: FOUR-MIDABLE

You want to know a memorable way to snap an 18-game goal-scoring drought: go out and pop four into the net in one game like Sam Bennett did

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

Saving the best for last. Leaving 'em begging for more.

Sam Bennett certainly proved he had a sense of the theatrical about him.

With under 30 seconds showing on the Saddledome scoreclock, on a night he'll remember forever, Jan. 14, 2016, the teenaged rookie outdid himself, pulling the puck between the feet of retreating defenceman Alex Petrovich before depositing it behind relief goaltender Al Montoya.

Goal No. 4 on the evening.

Ending a 10-game point-less drought and an 18-game goal-less streak in utterly superb style, the fourth-overall draft pick of the summer before upped his seasonal output to 10 with the barrage, highlighting a 6-0 drilling of the visiting Florida Panthers.

Bennett scored 'em in virtually every way possible.

The first one came via a laser, top shelf, converting a slick Jiri Hudler backhand pass only 56 seconds in. No. 2 arrived on a half-fan, the puck still managing to skip beyond Panthers' starting goaltender Roberto Luongo at 12:01.

On the third, Flames defenceman Deryk Engelland corralled his own rebound and one-armed the puck to a lurking Bennett, who lifted a backhander up and in, four minutes and four seconds later, spelling the end for the veteran Luongo.

Caps rained down from the Scotiabank Saddledome pews in tribute.

"It really is amazing," Bennett said later of his barrage. "It's crazy, just from bounces going your way to not going your way. It's amazing what can happen.

"Now I think I took another step in the right direction."

His own relief was palpable. The empathy from his teammates - who'd all gone through similar frustrations at some point during their careers - was heartfelt.

"He had a tough slump there," commiserated pivot Mikael Backlund. "He played good (during that spell) but mentally it's tough with a goal drought there.

"For a young player, it's easy to fade away in that situation. But he was really physical, still making plays and trying to score. If you're a natural goal scorer, they're eventually going to come.

"So I'm happy for him to get that ketchup out of the Heinz bottle.

"Scoring on the first shift, that's a good feeling, it gets easier. Pucks started following him around, he was being himself. Benny was awesome tonight. Great to see."

The outburst proved memorable on a number of fronts, making him:

*The third youngest player, at 19 years and 207 days, to strike four times in a game in NHL history and the third youngest to snare a first-period hat-trick.

*The youngest player in franchise annals to hit for a hattie, and the third Calgary freshman to accomplish the feat.

*It also marked the first four-goal outing by a Flame since the iconic Jarome Iginla singed the Phoenix Coyotes for a personal quartet on Feb. 23, 2003.

"He's obviously a very good player,'' praised defenceman Dougie Hamilton. "Tonight he showed that, in every aspect, and put on quite a display.

"It's the willingness to score goals. It's pretty evident the way he takes pucks to the net.

"It's that hunger. He's obviously got it."

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