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WHAT A TRIP!

Flames dump the Panthers 3-0 and head home with a 3-1-1 record on the five-game roadie

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

SUNRISE - By now, the body had to be screaming.

Two games in 24 hours, five in the past eight days, and over 6,300km travelled spanning three of the four corners of the continent?

That's a shift.

Tag another 3,989km just to get home, and you'd have enough points to book a five-star holiday.

But for these guys, it's all in a week's work.

The Flames dug deep into the reserves, found that little extra, and were able to grind out a 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday to give them a 3-1-1 record on the road trip.

The Flames return home with seven of a possible 10 points, and to achieve that with the opponents they faced, the numerous late nights, and the pressure building around them, a single word comes to mind:

Impressive.

 

Video: CGY@FLA: Talbot makes 38 saves in shutout win

 

Johnny Gaudreau, Milan Lucic and TJ Brodie all scored, Mark Giordano had a hand in all three, and Cam Talbot was perfect, stopping all 38 shots he faced.

With the win, the Flames improve to 34-26-7 on the year and - at the time of this writing - move out of a wild-card spot and into third in the Pacific with 75 points, one up on the Vancouver Canucks.

The Flames opened the scoring with a powerplay tally at 6:21 of the first period. With Giordano distributing up top, Gaudreau got the puck at the top of the left circle, walked in and rifled a shot under the glove of Sam Montembeault to give him 17 on the year.

The celebration said it all. Pure, unbridled emotion.

Gaudreau, who'd gone three games without a goal, buried his head, threw down the double fist-pump. and bellowed so loud you could hear him all the way up in the press box.

We later learned why.

"My grandfather (John Guy Gaudreau) passed away before our game in Tampa, and I found out right after the game," Gaudreau said. "It was kind of a tough day, but it was nice to find the net for him. It sucks losing people, but I was pretty pumped out to get that for him.

"He watched a lot of my games and was always a big supporter of me and my brother playing hockey. It was a special time to find the net there. Emotional, but very cool."

 

Video: CGY@FLA: Gaudreau pots far-side wrister for PPG

 

Gaudreau's tally came only moments after the Flames killed off a penalty, with Talbot - and the brave men on the backend - blocking everything in sight, keeping Mike Hoffman and home the team off the board early.

The Flames had a great chance to open up a two-goal lead when Gaudreau was hauled down on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot midway through the period. No. 13 slowly worked his way in, throwing a series of pump-fakes and leg-kicks at the rookie puck-stopper, but none worked, and Gaudreau's backhand, five-hole attempt was coolly turned aside in tight.

Shots on goal were even at 10 apiece after one.

The Flames went back to work on offence early in the second, and the third line was promptly rewarded for their hard work in the trenches.

Giordano filtered a shot through traffic that redirected by Derek Ryan en route. The puck sailed wide and caromed off the end boards, but Ryan tracked it down and send a no-look, behind-the-back pass out front to Lucic, go smacked his home for his seventh of the year - surpassing his goal total from one year ago.

Talbot wasn't overly busy, but he was dialled in and great when he had to be. Late in the second, with the Panthers applying pressure off the rush, he came up with several big stops to keep the homeside at bay.

His best came hot off the stick of Evgenii Dadonov, who pounced on a loose puck at the doorstep and had a clear lane to the net. Derek Forbort made a great play to break up the initial pass in tight, but the puck sat free, and Dadonov was quick to the scene, firing point-blank into the pads of the veteran puck-stopper.

The Flames were out-shot 16-5 in the middle session, but it's hard to complain or critique the effort too much.

After all, the legs had to have been getting heavy.

However, the Flames had a bit left in the tank.

The visitors padded the lead at 1:09 of the third period, as Brodie's 45-foot knuckler sailed through traffic and beat Montembeault clean on the glove side.

 

Video: CGY@FLA: Brodie hammers one-timer past Montembeault

 

It was Brodie's second of the year, with Giordano picking up the assist - his third of the night - setting up the one-timer.

Talbot put the finishes touches on his second shutout of the season with an incredible save off Hoffman midway through the third. The Cats' leading goal-getter has five shots at this point in the game, and appeared to have the short-side labelled, but Talbot got across in time to snare it with the glove.

 

Video: CGY@FLA: Talbot denies Hoffman with the glove

 

THEY SAID IT:

LUCIC ON GAUDREAU'S EMOTIONAL GOAL:

"I think we were all happy for him when he got that goal. A loss in the family, especially one that close to you, can be tough. But he stepped up and played a good game, and I'm sure that goal is going to mean a lot to him for the rest of his life."

TALBOT ON RECORDING THE SHUTOUT:

"I felt pretty good from the get-go. I got a pretty good warmup in this morning. Guys let me see the shots, (kept) them to the outside for the first little bit. That gets the confidence up early and you can really get into a groove."

TALBOT ON READING THE ONE-TIMERS TO HOFFMAN:

"I know that Yandle is very deceptive up top, so you can't really cheat on him. They've got a lot of talent on that top unit, so you've got to stay patient, but I also know that Hoffman's got that one-timer on that side. So, try to stay patient on one side and also know exactly where he is, because they like to look for him."

GEOFF WARD ON HOW THE GAME PLAYED OUT:

"I thought it was a good effort by our guys at the end of a road trip. Tough trip, but I really liked our third period, especially. That was our best period of the night and the guys did a good job of being able to find ways to stretch the lead in the hockey game. We didn't give them very much and played a real, real good road period - probably our best one of the trip to end it off."

WARD ON GAUDREAU'S EMOTIONAL MOMENT:

"It's hard but it can be inspiring. It's funny. We all have an inner voice - a voice that we listen to. It's different people. It could be your wife, it could be your girlfriend, it could be your dad or your mom. Maybe for him it was his grandfather, I don't know. But you have specail people. And when something like that happens, it hurts. For him to come and play the game that he did tonight, I thought it was a great performance by one of our best players. He led us in a lot of ways tonight."

 

Video: The Flames capped off their trip with a huge 3-0 win

 

ONE-TIMERS:

Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 27 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, was scheduled to get the start again today, but was moved into the backup role only minutes before puck drop. Typically, teams will split the goaltending duties, like the Flames did with David Rittich and Cam Talbot this weekend, but Bobrovsky came into the day having played both games of a back-to-back set four times already this year. …  Panthers defenceman Keith Yandle is the NHL's active 'Iron Man' streak leader. The 33-year-
old played in his 863rd straight game today.

 

THE LINEUP:

Here are the forward lines, D pairings and goalie to start the game:

FORWARDS

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Andrew Mangiapane - Mikael Backlund - Matthew Tkachuk
Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Dillon Dube
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Tobias Rieder

DEFENCE

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Andersson
Derek Forbort - Erik Gustafsson

GOALTENDER

Cam Talbot

 

UP NEXT:

The Flames return to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday, Mar. 4 when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first of a five-game homestand (click here for tickets). Over their 11 days in Calgary, the Flames will entertain the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas Golden Knights,
New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets, before hitting the road once again.

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