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37 FOR 37: HOME SWEET DOME

Flames put on a show by winning a franchise record 11-straight games in the friendly confines of the Scotiabank Saddledome

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

A man's home, it's often said, is his castle.

That being so, from Nov. 5 through Dec. 27, 2015, the Flames must've stationed eagle-eyed sentries on every watch tower around their home, built a moat for protection and filled it with alligators.

Because over those eight weeks, their castle was nothing short of impregnable, stringing together a franchise best 11-game Dome winning streak.

The previous high of 10 could be traced back to the Darryl Sutter/Jarome Iginla/Mikka Kiprusoff era, specifically Nov. 7 to Dec. 12, 2006.

The record-setting run had its origins in, was born out of, desperate circumstances - at 3-9-1, only three teams had a worse record than the Flames to open the season.

Encumbered by sizeable expectations after a plucky push into the second round of playoffs in the springtime, pressure had already begun to ratchet up.

"The first day you accept to be a coach,'' acknowledged Bob Hartley, only a few months removed from his Jack Adams Trophy-lifting night in Las Vegas, "you know the risk. You know the ground rules.

"Toe Blake got fired. Scotty Bowman got fired. Everybody gets fired. I was working in a windshield plant, sanding around 15,000 windshields in a shift, with no pressure, good living, working with my buddies.

"Not a bad life, eh?

"Well, I quit this because I wanted to experience the thrill of being a coach.

"As a coach, you pay a price for that thrill - you go through good times and through bad times. You understand that. You accept that. But as I always tell my guys: 'You can always recognize a good captain of a ship when the sea is rough.'

"Right now the sea is rough."

A day later, the sea began to smooth out nicely.

This unparalleled run of home success also began, as these things so often do, with a bounce, a ricochet off Mikael Backlund and behind Philadelphia netminder Michal Neuwirth for a 2-1 overtime victory.

Calgary's first at the Scotiabank Saddledome in six attempts.

Forty-eight hours after the morale-boosting win, the Flames trimmed Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. And would subsequently defeat New Jersey and Chicago, followed by the sweep of a five-game homestand - beating Dallas, Boston, San Jose, Buffalo and the NY Rangers - to really get the ball rolling.

The record-tying 10th victory arrived at the expense of the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 22, 4-1.

Next up on the dance card, the Edmonton Oilers. What better way to set a record than against your most heated historical rival?

"I didn't even mention it once to the players," insisted Hartley, the Flames having reconvened following a three-day eggnog-and-mistletoe holiday break.

The catalyst over the 10 games of goodness was easy to pinpoint: Johnny Gaudreau.

During the success at the Dome, the second-year left winger had piled up 13 snipes and an astounding 20 points in those wins.

Against the Oil, the-then 22-year-old notched two more goals as this Flames squad went into the franchise record books via a 5-2 conquest.

"We love playing at home," explained Gaudreau. "We're pretty comfortable playing here, it's a good atmosphere and a lot of fun."

All good things, though, invariably come to an end.

The streak was halted on New Year's Eve in a 1-0 loss to the L.A. Kings.

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