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'HE WAS A BEAST OUT THERE'

Coach lauds Tkachuk for his impressive game in win over Oilers

by GEORGE JOHNSON @NHLFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

And now, boys and girls, a public service announcement from Matthew Tkachuk, Safety Warden.

"If he doesn't want to get hit,'' advised Tkachuk. "stay off the tracks.

"I caught him three times there. You'd think he'd learn after the first one.

"If he wants to react like that, we'll take the powerplay, we'll take the game winner and we'll move on to first place."

 

Video: "If he doesn't want to get hit, stay off the tracks"

 

In frothy Saturday night entertainment that had old-time devotees of the '80s Battle of Alberta dabbing at tear ducts nostalgically, the Flames held fast to withstand the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3, for a fifth win on the trot.

"An all-around great game by us,'' adjudged goaltender Cam Talbot, who produced 29 stops to one-up his old team. "They have so many weapons on the ice.

"It's staying as patient as possible, trusting my reads and the guys did a good job of taking away the options and giving me the easy reads."

There were some big plays.

A Johnny Gaudreau's laser-sharp snipe top corner to bring the Flames back to 2-2, for example.

Or, a shot-out-of-a-cannon burst by Connor McDavid, capped by the most delicate of chips over Talbot's glove, the puck hanging in the air momentarily like a soap bubble.

"I've seen him do it a hundred times already, in practices and games,'' sighed ex-teammate Talbot. "And you see all the highlight reels.

"You've got to stay patient. I don't think I took myself out of position but sometimes those guys just find a hole."

 

Video: "We had a solid night up and down our lineup"

 

In a game so full of juicy moments, one stood out above all others in a final analysis.

Score dead-bolted at 3-3, taking dead aim at his target, Tkachuk sent Oiler winger Zach Kassian helicoptering in the air via a thunderous body check just inside the final two minutes of the second period.

In the ensuing melee, Kassian dropped the gloves and rained punches on Tkachuk. The Oiler found himself tagged with four minutes for roughing, as well as a 10-minute misconduct. 

Tkachuk received nada in the way of disciplinary action.

The Oilers managed to survive the opening two minutes of the PK but 39 seconds into period three, Elias Lindholm zipped home his second of the evening, which would prove to the ultimate difference-maker.

Naturally, Tkachuk could be found sliding directly into the sightline of Oiler goaltender Mikko Koskinen as Lindholm readied his release.

"That is part of my game,'' parried Tkachuk regarding his physicality on a night that literally begged for it. "If I don't do that, I'm not the same player. Maybe now the puck's not going in the way it was at the beginning of the year for me but you've got to be the type of player that provides stuff other than that.

"These are games where I needed to play like that; to not pass up on a hit. But I thought our whole team did a good job of that.

"I thought we did a lot of similar things to what we did in Edmonton" - a 5-1 victory on Dec. 27th. "Maybe gave up a little more but we still only took one penalty. That's a big part. You know how dangerous they are on the powerplay.

"And what a kill by our penalty-kill. Hats off to that. And Lindy with a great shot on the powerplay. We need that one. If we don't get one on that powerplay, maybe momentum turns to them, still a tie game."

Not only was Tkachuk noticeable. You couldn't take your eyes off him.

 

Video: "(Tkachuk) was a beast out there for us tonight"

 

"He was good tonight, really good,'' lauded Flames' interim coach Geoff Ward. "He was involved, he was physical, it was a great screen on the power-play goal, he did an awful lot of good things for us tonight.

"You see what kind of an impact he can have on the game, not much you can say; he was a beast out there for us tonight. He was really, really involved and I thought he was an influential player."

The welcome result pushed the Flames past the Oilers to the summit of a tightly-packed Pacific Division and into a tie for third in the Western Conference standings.

"Obviously the implications of the game were big,'' agreed Ward.

"I thought our discipline was good. The guys were talking about it before the game, in a game like that you need to be emotionally engaged but you need to be emotionally in-control as well and I thought our guys did a real good job with it.

"I thought it was a good example of two teams playing hard. It was a good hockey game, so a lot of good things probably on both sides of the table.

"But we're happy with the way we played tonight."

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