I was kind of clinching the stick a little too hard there throughout the pre-season trying to get that first one. Thankfully got it out of the way and I’m excited for the rest of camp. - Johnny Gaudreau
CALGARY, AB -- Johnny Gaudreau was just looking for one. Jonas Hiller made sure that was all the Calgary Flames needed.
Gaudreau broke his pre-season goose-egg while Hiller put one up of his own in stopping all 28 shots faced to lead the Flames to a 2-0 shutout victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.
“Definitely helps me out a lot and it feels good to get that first one out of the way,” Gaudreau said of his game-winner at 9:05 of the second period. “I was kind of clinching the stick a little too hard there throughout the pre-season trying to get that first one. Thankfully got it out of the way and I’m excited for the rest of camp.”
Time, it seems, is running out to make an impression for the 21-year-old rookie. Calgary has just two pre-season games remaining in the form of a home-and-home series with the Winnipeg Jets kicking off at home on Thursday.
But Gaudreau, who has a Hobey Baker title on his mantle amidst a plethora of other awards after a standout career at Boston College, feels he’s getting better and better as he settles in.
“I mean, every day I think I’ve got to make sure I’m getting better and better,” he said. “It’s not up to me to pick the team, but I’ve got to make sure I’m showing the coaching staff and management that I can be a part of this team and if I keep playing well and keep getting opportunities offensively and making sure the puck stays out of our net defensively when I’m on the ice, I think I might have a pretty good shot.”
After a scoreless opening 20, Johnny Gaudreau broke the stalemate in the second period.
Taking a pass from Curtis Glencross in the neutral zone, Gaudreau jumped across the Avalanche blue line, turning Nate Guenin around before firing a shot over the shoulder of Colorado goaltender Reto Berra.
The goal, Gaudreau’s first of the pre-season after recording 15 shots on net through three-and-a-half outings.
“Throughout the beginning of the game all the guys were saying how he likes to go down early,” Gaudreau said. “He was here last year and I got a lot of tips from the guys and figured it was smart to go up top early on in the game. I had a couple chances throughout the first period that didn’t go in. I kind of stuck with it there and got the shot through.
“It was a nice couple of chips there from Glennie and (Joe) Colborne and I kind of got the puck with speed. I went inside-outside and just took a quick shot to try to catch the goalie off guard and it went in.”
He nearly scored on shot 17, too.
Zipping around Colorado’s zone, Gaudreau parked himself alone in the high slot and fired a shot that Berra managed to glove down as one of his 19 saves through the first two periods of action.
Berra’s next one might’ve been better, though.
Parked behind the Colorado goal, Jiri Hudler snuck a backhand pass to Sean Monahan on the doorstep, but the Swiss netminder managed to get in front of the bang-bang opportunity with 2:30 remaining in the period.
Jonas Hiller, working his first full game of the pre-season, shut the Avalanche down from there.
With 5:40 remaining in regulation, he stopped both Andrew Agozzino’s initial shot on a 2-on-1 and then his outstretched pad caught the rebound off the stick of Michael Schumacher to keep Calgary up by one.
He had plenty of motivation.
His daughter, 11-week-old Noelia, was watching dad play in person for the first time.
“You’re still trying to get into the groove,” Hiller said. “I’m definitely happy the way it went today. I was a little under pressure because it was my daughter’s first game. I kind of wanted to show her something.
“I wanted to play well because there’s some things for me on the line as well. At the end, you try to go out there and play your best every night. Sometimes it works out better than other nights. I’m happy it worked out tonight. My daughter being here for her first game definitely makes it a little more special than a regular pre-season game.”
With 46.4 seconds remaining, Lance Bouma hit the back of the empty net with Berra on the bench for the extra attacker for the 2-0 finish.