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MAGICAL NIGHT

Top line goes off against Devils, with Gaudreau, Monahan and Lindholm combining for 14 points in win

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / calgaryflames.com

There were, among the flurry of headgear wafting downwards from the inside heavens, red hats and black hats and white hats. Mesh hats and canvas hats.

But the type of hat most fitting the occasion was nowhere to be found in the gathering pile being scooped off the Scotiabank Saddledome ice 12 minutes into the third period.

One of those long, crooked-at-the-tip models favoured by enchanters, a la Gandalf, or the battered old grey edition used to sort the houses at Hogwarts.

Because this was, plain and simple, a performance of wizardly dimensions.

"He could've had more,'' marvelled Flames' assistant GM Craig Conroy afterwards. "It felt like he could've had 10!"

On Tuesday night, Johnny Gaudreau was, in a single word: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

"I might've had six (points) before, maybe when I was younger," reckoned Gaudreau, whose incandescent three goal/three assist evening will doubtless have New Jersey goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood sitting bolt upright in bed for the next few nights drenched in a puddle of perspiration at the memory of a 9-4 loss.

"A long time ago.

"My dad used to roll two lines so I was out a lot. So I'm sure there were a couple games where I had a lot of points.

"I was getting looks most of the night. Could've had another one on a little miniature breakaway there. The goaltender knew I was coming backhand. I wasn't going five-hole because I'd scored twice on him that way. So I tried to go far side.

"It was nice to get some chances."

 

Video: "I was proud of our line."

 

In triggering a six-goal third period uprising from a 4-3 deficit, Gaudreau stormed to within one point of the wondrous Sergei Makarov's franchise single-game record of seven points (2G,5A), set Feb. 25, 1990 against the Oilers.

"He was a man on a mission, wasn't he?'' said assistant coach Martin Gelinas delightedly. "I remember getting five points one night - including four goals - for Vancouver against (Nikolai) Khabibulin, against Phoenix. I had the four goals after two periods and Alex Mogilny told me: 'Marty, I want to be part of something special. Just keep going.'

"On nights like Johnny just had, you feel … unstoppable. Everything you touch turns to gold, it seems.

"It is just the best feeling in the world. I'm happy for him."

He trotted out his entire repertoire on this night. Wraparounds. Beebees. No-look layoffs. Curl-back set-ups. Behind-the-net sleight-of-hand.

The works.

About the only magic trick Gaudreau didn't attempt, or pull off, on this night was sawing a woman in half.

 

Video: "It's fun to play with him."

 

"I'm trying to find him, he's trying to find me. And when you're feeling it like that,'' praised pivot Sean Monahan, "good things tend to happen.

"It's a long season, you can go on a 20-game point streak or not have a point in 20 games. When I'm playing with guys like Lindy and Johnny, with that much skill, if you're playing the right way night in and night out, you're going to get a lot of looks."

Gaudreau opened his evening's account 5:05 in, latching onto a lovely saucer pass from Monahan through to go backhand up and in on Blackwood. His second came via penalty shot, a poison dart long-side, after being hooked off balance on a breakaway a minute into a pivotal, six-goal Calgary third period.

On the playmaking end, you won't find a nicer set-up than his ultra-patient pass for a Derek Ryan tap-in on Calgary's sixth of the night.

"What do you want me to say?'' marvelled Ryan, himself off-the-charts excellent with two goals and a helper. "He's one of the best players in the league. On a 2-on-1 with him, I was just trying not to mess it up."

On the heels of an 11-point turn from the 3M Line on Sunday in a win over Vegas, the No.-1 unit, in a lull lately, outdid that impressive aggregate by three, Monahan and right-winger Elias Lindholm complementing No. 13 with four points apiece, each tabulating one goal and three helpers.

"Our line, it's been a tough month for us but we work hard, we're a good line we've got good chemistry and we're three pretty good friends," said Gaudreau.

"We were bound to find the net eventually."

 

Video: Hopefully we can build from and keep playing this way

 

Amen, echoed Lindholm. 

"We haven't been great the last couple weeks," he, too, acknowledged. "It's been good to see other lines stepping up. Today was our turn.

"Hopefully we can build from this and keep playing.

With Gaudreau in this type of form, all things seems possible.

"Just give him the puck," Lindholm advised, grinning. "He was making plays all over so just get open.

"It was fun to see him like this."

A taste, the Flames are hoping, of more wonders down the stretch as they chase top spot in the division and the conference.

"When he's going like that, you just become a fan, watching. It was impressive,'' lauded Conroy. "He hasn't maybe been as hot as he'd like the last while but everybody's going to go through lulls during a season.

"Couldn't happen at a better time, either. We needed that win tonight, with San Jose winning with, what? four, or whatever it was, seconds left (in Winnipeg)?

"Three-and-three. Six points is a lot of points.

"One of those nights you'll never forget."
 

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