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SPOOK-TACULAR COMEBACK

Matthew Tkachuk scored twice, including an OT winner you've got to see to believe, as the Flames rallied to victory

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

With all kinds of ghostly get-ups on display in the stands, the Flames were hoping to use the Halloween spirit to exercise a few demons.  

Or even drum up a Thriller.

But that?

That was unforgettable. One for the ages.

Possibly, even, one of the greatest comebacks in franchise history.

 

Video: CGY@NSH: Tkachuk goes between his legs for OT winner

 

Through 40, it seemed improbable.

Impossible, even, considering the building, the opponent, and the million-to-one odds stacked against them.

But on this of all nights, when families pause, reality halts, and we dress in the garb of childhood heroes, those that actually play for the part for a living brought the drama to life.

The only thing missing was a cape on the back of Calgary's high-flying daredevil.

As part of a wild third period that saw the Flames face a 4-1 deficit at the outset, Matthew Tkachuk evened things up, 5-5, with 39 seconds left before winning it with a ridiculous, highlight-reel marker in overtime.

With only 1.3 seconds left, Tkachuk hoovered up a loose puck and went between his own legs between the hash marks, roofing what could stand as the Goal of the Year over Pekka Rinne's right shoulder to give the Flames the comeback win.

Silly.

"I try that - it seems - like, once a game," Tkachuk laughed. "I'm lucky it went in. I knew there was very little time on the clock. Very little. Like, a couple seconds. Where the puck was, I didn't think I'd be able to get my feet or my body around to keep it on my forehand. I didn't think I'd have the time to do that, and I didn't want to go ahead of it and backhand smack it, so that was the last resort. It went in, which is nice."

Asked whether or not he's worked on pulling off that move, outside of the goal-line play that earned him a goal against the New York Islanders last year, Tkachuk quipped:

"Never when I'm right in the middle of the slot in OT with one second left."

Touche.

 

Video: Tkachuk, Flames rally past Predators in overtime

 

What a goal.

What a night.

The Flames were far and away the better team in the third - a valiant effort, indeed, after facing a three-goal deficit through two.

Andersson made it a 4-2 game early as the Flames came hot of the gates, out-shooting the Predators heavily and generating some great looks in close.

The D man stepped in off the right circle and whistled a rising wrister through Rinne's glove hand at 1:58. A crack, perhaps, in the previously impenetrable armour of the 2018 Vezina winner. Rinne, who'd posted back-to-back bagels and entered the contest with a 7-0-1 record, a .937 save percentage and a 1.74 goals-against average in his first eight starts, looked human.

Lindholm then made it a one-goal came with 6:21 to play - a fortuitous bounce off a defender in front pinballing its way past Rinne and giving No. 28 his team-leading ninth of the year.

 

Video: CGY@NSH: Lindholm nets goal off defender's stick

 

Oh, it was on, now.

Quine leveled the score at 16:39, and the Flames looked destined to bring it home…

That is, until Austin Watson converted on a 2-on-1 with Colton Sissons with 1:21 to play, putting the Preds back in front at a most critical time.

But wouldn't you know it, the Flames a little wizardry left in this altogether spooky night in Smashville.

Tkachuk banged home a loose puck at the side of the net as the Flames - once gain - rose from the grave and evened the score when all looked lost.

 

Video: CGY@NSH: Tkachuk slams home rebound to tie game late

 

David Rittich was excellent in one of his busier nights of the year, stopping 31 shots including a game-saver on Roman Josi in the third to preserve what was then a two-goal deficit.

With the win, the Flames improve to 7-6-2 on the year.

 

Tweet from @PR_NHL: Matthew Tkachuk just the second player in @NHLFlames franchise history to score a game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation and a game-winning goal in the final 60 seconds of overtime.The other: Eddy Beers (Oct 30, 1983 vs. VAN).#NHLStats https://t.co/RaCzx80W5m

 

"We had the puck lots and if we didn't, that was the most we had it in the game," Head Coach Bill Peters said of the tilted third period. "We were looking to make plays and were playing with confidence. ... I thought we were dangerous.

"You can't play with one foot on the gas and one on the brake.

"So, let's take the one off the brake."

Tkachuk certainly did, earning all kinds of praise from the bench boss for how he willed his teammates back into the fight.

"He was excellent," Peters said. "He drug guys into the battle. He was by far our best player tonight right from the drop of the puck. We need more guys on board like that at the start of the game."

The Predators carried the play for the much of the opening 20, with the first 14 shots going the way of the homeside. They opened the scoring on their ninth, after the Flames were unable to clear some heavy traffic at the goalmouth.

Rittich made the initial block on Craig Smith, who rifled a shot from the top of the far circle, but was unable to hang onto the rebound, allowing Nick Bonino to pounce, win a battle in front and sling it home on the backhand.

Bonino, who tallied a natural hat trick in Nashville's 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday, now leads the Predators with seven goals on the year.

Nashville opened up a two-goal lead at 10:15, as a bit of a broken play off the rush put the Flames in a deep hole. The initial blast by Sissons was blocked by Noah Hanifin, but the stray puck bounced right to Watson, who worked the give-and-go with Sissons, and finished it off with a rocket from the hash marks.

The goal came only seconds after Ryan Johansen was foiled on a partial breakaway, losing his footing in tight but still getting a shot off while being hounded from behind.

The Flames, to their credit, evened things out near the end of the period and outshot the Preds 4-1 in the final five minutes.

One of those four pucks eluded Preds goalie Pekka Rinne, as Ryan cleaned up a wraparound try from Tkachuk, making it a one-goal game at 15:27.

Rinne, meanwhile, had his shutout streak snapped at 151:28.

 

Video: CGY@NSH: Ryan beats Rinne with wrister from circle

 

The Flames did beat Rinne again late in the period, but not the glove-side pipe as Johnny Gaudreau cranked the would-be tally off the far post on a powerplay.

The Flames had a better start to the second and again struck iron on one of their early opportunities, but a single mistake on a powerplay less than five minutes in restored the Predators' two-goal advantage.

Calle Jarnkrok was the recipient of a great pass on a 2-on-1 with Watson, out-waiting the sliding defender and ripping a shot high, short-side to bag the first of his two short-handed markers.

The second came with 1:08 to play in the period - except this time, he kept on the 2-on-1, faking a pass over a sprawling Matthew Tkachuk before blazing a shot, bar down, on Rittich's glove side.

Shots on goal favoured the Predators 27-9 through two.

But the third and OT was unlike anything we've seen.

Maybe, ever.

 

THEY SAID IT:

Tkachuk on the comeback win:

"This comeback gives us confidence that we can be down three - even though we don't want to be - and can come back. That's the positive we can take from this."

Peters on the four-goal third period:

"A lot of good things. Looked more like us, right? Put the work boots on, played with some speed, possessed the puck. So, it was a good period."

Peters on what this win will do to galvanize the group:

"We're going to find out right? We're going to find out moving forward, but it should be a springboard to bigger and better things moving forward."

Andersson on the belief on the bench:

"Even when they scored to make it 5-4, it felt like we were going to come back because we had so much momentum. ... We knew we've been scoring a lot on the 6-on-5 lately and last season as well, so we knew if we had a chance to get it in the zone, which we did pretty early, we were going to put a lot of pressure on them."

Oliver Kylington on Tkachuk's highlight-reel tally:

"That's crazy. I was surprised when I saw it. He's a highly skilled guy ... it's only him that can score goals like that."

 

ONE-TIMERS:

This was only the sixth time since 1995-96 that the Flames have played on Halloween night. With the loss, their record falls to 4-2-0 in those matchups. Prior to this evening, the last time the Flames played on Halloween night was in 2015-16 when they beat the Oilers 5-4 in Edmonton. ... In the victory, a few players hit some major milestones:

 

Tweet from @NHLFlamesPR: Sean Monahan - 200 career assists

 

 

THE LINEUP:

Here are the forward lines, D pairings and goalie to start Thursday's game (starters in bold):

FORWARDS

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Andrew Mangiapane - Derek Ryan - Sam Bennett
Milan Lucic - Mark Jankowski - Alan Quine

DEFENCE

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson

GOALTENDER

David Rittich

 

UP NEXT:

With the finish line in sight, the Flames continue their season-long, 10-day road trip on Saturday with a stop in Columbus to face the Blue Jackets. The five-game jaunt then comes to a close on Sunday in Washington, D.C., before the Flames finally return home to kick off their longest homestand of the season so far - a four-gamer beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 4 against the red-hot Arizona Coyotes (click here for tickets).

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