Tonight, it was Halloween dance for Johnny. He was dancing. - Bob Hartley
CALGARY, AB -- It started with a dance around Nashville Predators defenceman Anton Volchenkov midway through the first period. It ended with two points, including the game-winner.
Johnny Gaudreau was buzzing again at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.
Though the 21-year-old didn’t score in his first burst of the game, Gaudreau, again, continued getting comfortable at the expense of an opponent. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound forward had a goal and an assist as the Flames trumped Nashville 2-1.
“It's about momentum,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “Whenever you can control the puck, that's the best defence. You don't have to spend time in your zone. You make plays. You're creative. We encourage everyone on the team to do this ...
“Tonight, it was Halloween dance for Johnny. He was dancing.”
Since serving as a healthy scratch against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 17, Gaudreau has certainly found that comfort zone. The reigning Hobey Baker Award winner has two goals and six points in six games. His first five games before the sit saw zero in the production department.
His exploits Friday came alongside Markus Granlund and veteran Jiri Hudler.
“I know every game I’m feeling more comfortable and it helps when you’re playing with guys like Hudler in a game like this,” Gaudreau said. “I’m just real fortunate to get to play with a lot of skilled guys. That’s just going to make me a better player when I’m playing with great players like that.”
Gaudreau got off to a good start after a move on Volchenkov put him in alone on Pekka Rinne. While the Predators goaltender bested him in the first, a cheeky sharp-angled shot in the third period -- the game’s eventual game-winner -- beat the former Vezina Trophy finalist.
“Right from the start,” started captain Mark Giordano, “he made that move in the first (period). It seems like the puck's on a string for him lately, not just this game but the past few. Really nice to see. Tonight, he was a game change-changer. There's nothing else to say. He really changed the game for us.”
“It seemed like every time he touched it, something good was going to happen.”
Sean Monahan agreed.
Monahan, who had a goal and an assist of his own against the Predators, couldn’t help but be impressed with what Gaudreau has brought.
“When he’s flying and making those moves and dancing around guys that’s pretty special to see,” he said. “Obviously it gets people out of their seats. He’s a talented player.
“He does that every day.”