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Tkachuk and Ferland shine in Flames 'break out' victory

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

For the moment, Matthew Tkachuk's shootout 'book' is nothing more than a leaflet.

"Honestly, I just have three moves,'' confessed the sophomore sensation. "Same three moves since I've been … I dunno. Maybe like midget-minor, three years ago.

"I just have those three moves in my head. I look at the shooters before me and I just kinda decide when I touch the puck."

The option where he veers to his left as he approaches the net, firing back to his right against the grain, catching the goaltender moving, seems to work like a treat.

Certainly nothing New Jersey's Keith Kinkaid could do anything about on Sunday night.

Not yet out of his teens, there's plenty of time for the abrasive left-winger to add a fourth or a fifth to the repertoire.

"It's fun,'' said Tkackuk of the shootout experience, after counting the SO winner in a chaotic 5-4 victory over the quick, young, puck-pursuit Devils.

"Pretty stressful but I'm way more nervous watching the guys ahead of me and the guys on the other team go."

Eight goals. Two (missed) penalty shots. A laundry list of gilt-edged chances. Super saves. A couple want-it-backs. 

And, to wrap it all up, a shootout - Calgary scoring twice, via Tkachuk and Sean Monahan, the Devils once.

"A weird game,'' said Tkachuk. "A lot of momentum swings.''

Video: Tkachuk on his three moves shootout strategy

The four goals represents an offensive breakout for the Flames, 2-1 winners in their past two home dates - against Washington and Pittsburgh. Not since dusting off the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 at Rogers Place on Oct. 14 had they scored as many, eight starts ago.

"The quality of our chances the last few games has been good,'' said captain Mark Giordano, who's felt for a while that an outburst was on the way. "We're not just getting a lot of shots.

"Tonight we had some breakaways, some really quality looks. They did, too. But you just feel when you're getting those looks game-in and game-out it's going to go.

"I thought they were better than us though the neutral zone. We'll clean that up. But other than that, we had a good game."

No coincidence that the No.-1 line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland established and maintained the tempo, each man collecting two points.

Ferland, in particular, enjoyed a monster evening.

Stonewalled by Kinkaid on a penalty shot try 13:15 into the first period, he continued to solider industriously on, waiting that extra beat off the half-wall for Monahan to slide into open territory and count his team-topping eighth goal of the season, then showing a Charmin-soft set of mitts to score into the short side, the set-up courtesy the sublime Gaudreau.

"I think playing with Johnny and Monny I try to be around the net a lot,'' said Ferland. "They're skilled guys. We're getting some good bounces and it feels good to be rewarded."

After a couple of starts and stops patrolling the right flank on that unit, Ferland seems to be settling in quite nicely.

Video: Ferland talks about playing with Monahan and Gaudreau

"He looks comfortable,'' agreed Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan. "He's looked really good for the last three, four games. Now the offence is starting to come.

"Confidence is a big thing in this league, no matter how many years you've been in it."

With the score knotted 4-4, the Devils were handed the glorious chance in the closing six minutes when Flame defenceman Matt Bartowski, a step behind on winger Miles Wood driving hard to the net, was adjudged to have reached out and tugged the left-winger down.

With the game on his stick, Wood took the puck wide but goaltender Mike Smith - Calgary's MVP through the early going - forced him wide and the backhand attempt flat-out missed the net.

So both teams wound up 0-for-1 in the penalty-shot department.

And finally, the Flames were able to provide Smith with a decent amount of offensive backing.

"We're in Game 14,'' said Gulutzan. "It's about time we gave him some run support.

"He's been bailing us (out) for a long time so it was good for us to support him. That was mentioned on our bench, too.

"We've got to dig in here and get this done.

"So I thought our guys did a good job."

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