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FLAMES REWIND - 26.11.17

Backlund reaches an impressive milestone ... Rittich gets his first nod between the pipes in NHL tilt ... Exclusive chat with Kipper was a beauty

by ARI YANOVER @NHLFlames / calgaryflames.com

After 484 games played - all for the Flames - Mikael Backlund has scored his 100th NHL goal.

The milestone tally was the game-winner in a 3-2 win over the Avalanche Saturday night, and it meant a lot to the Swedish centre.

"It's a big milestone for me," Backlund said following the game. "Going through some tough, and some great times, too, in Calgary, but… it's been a roller-coaster ride up until here, so very happy I reached it."

Backlund has come a long way since being selected in the first round, 24th overall, by the Flames in the 2007 draft.

He played his first game on Jan. 8, 2009, a quick stopover in Calgary before heading to join the Kelowna Rockets.

A year later, he was well on his way to being a regular NHLer. His first goal came on Jan. 28, 2010, on Ilya Bryzgalov of the then-Phoenix Coyotes. Assisted by Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross, it was a game-tying goal that came in an eventual 3-2 shootout loss.

Throughout his time with the Flames, Backlund has had to work to get recognition as one of the best two-way players in the game. His offensive uptick recently has helped, including back-to-back 20 goal seasons headed into this one, and a 50-point season. 

So far, he's on pace to repeat both those numbers.

Consistent play, healthy seasons, and his linemates - Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk - have helped Backlund get to where he is today. It started when the Flames brought Frolik into the fold, and he and Backlund clicked immediately, with both defensive forwards looking as though they were born to play together.

Tkachuk gave their line that little extra something. Dubbed the 3M Line, they've formed one of the top trios in the entire NHL, providing a solid boon of secondary scoring for the Flames.

"Congrats to @mbacklund11 on his 100 NHL tuck," Tkachuk tweeted.

"Thanks for setting me up for the last 20 or so bud," Backlund replied.

ONE-TIMERS

Six games and 12 days away from the Scotiabank Saddledome are in the books, as the Flames have finally closed out their longest road trip of the season - though they'll have another six-game, 11-day roadie coming up in February … Part of the trip involved getting to take in a Dallas Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium on American Thanksgiving … Miikka Kiprusoff updated on his life after hockey and gave his thoughts on this season's edition of the Flames ! Be sure to check out his conversation with Ryan Leslie if you missed it … Go Stamps go! They're playing in the 105th Grey Cup Sunday, and the Flames are cheering them on.

SNAP SHOT

What a past couple of days it's been for David Rittich. On Wednesday, he was backing up fellow prospect Jon Gillies with the Stockton Heat. 

By Friday, he was recalled, having Czech legend Jaromir Jagr take shots on him, and backing up Mike Smith in the NHL.

Then, he got the nod: his first NHL start.

Rittich had played in the NHL before, a 20-minute relief effort in the Flames' final game of the year last season, on April 8. He let in one goal on 10 shots.

But a start is something else entirely, and this time, he let in just two goals over 26 shots - a .923 save percentage - looking poised throughout his first NHL win.

"It was nice for him," coach Glen Gulutzan said, after Rittich got to wear the Calgary Police cowboy hat the Flames give to the best player of the game after wins. 

"He's a Czech guy, I don't know if he's ever had a cowboy hat on before," Gulutzan followed up, mentioning what may very well have been yet another first in a long line of them for Rittich.

BACKHANDS

MONDAY: The Flames gave up a goal early, but that was all the space they gave the Capitals as they responded back with four. Gaudreau extended his goals streak to six games and points streak to 10, while the powerplay came together to seal the 4-1 win.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Smith put in a stellar effort, stopping 40 pucks en route to a 1-0 overtime loss to the Blue Jackets. 

FRIDAY: Gaudreau, Sean Monahan , and Micheal Ferland put together another amazing game, scoring four goals between them as Gaudreau continues to surge up the NHL scoring rankings. It wasn't quite enough, however, as the Flames fell 6-4 to the Stars.

SATURDAY: Rittich and Backlund shone, with their first NHL win and 100th NHL goal, respectively, en route to a 3-2 win over the Avalanche to close out a 3-2-1 road trip.

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