Mikael Backlund has been keeping his own diary throughout the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, regularly providing behind-the-scenes access.
In his final entry, Backlund discusses the 2-1 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium, a game in which Winnipeg scored the tying goal at 15:49 of the third period before winning on a 2-on-1 rush goal by Brian Little at 3:04 of overtime.
What an incredible night this was, just a great atmosphere throughout and I really enjoyed it.
The pregame ceremony was so cool from the national anthem, to seeing all the fans in the stands cheering, to the fireworks, and then the jets flying over, it was quite something. Even though I saw it all last time I played in an outdoor game, it was surreal to see it again.
Everybody was concerned about the weather before the game started, the wind and the snow. But once we were playing, I thought it was special. For me, it brought back more memories of being a young kid. When you were young and you had outdoor practices, no matter the weather, you were skating. That is what this was like, it didn't matter about the weather, we were playing. I thought it was the same for both teams, and I certainly didn't mind it. It was a nod to the outdoor game and being in Canada, right? That was the way I looked at it. It was amazing and, at times, like during TV timeouts, I was just trying to sit back on the bench and take it all in and really enjoy it.
Video: CGY Recap: Flames dealt OT loss in Heritage Classic
The game itself was different from a traditional indoor game. The puck was bouncing at times, but that is to be expected. It was a weird game too with a lot of special-teams play. Yet, I thought it was decent game. I thought we played well for two periods and then we sat back in the third and they took advantage of that. In overtime, anything can happen.
We didn't get down after (Jets defenseman) Josh Morrissey tied the game with that power-play goal late in the third. We did a good job of bouncing back after that. Obviously, they got some momentum from it, but I thought we came out and played well going into overtime. We killed another penalty in overtime but, unfortunately, they scored right after that. That happens; it's hockey. Still it was a great experience and I will remember it always.
Now we have to put this behind us because we have some important games on the road, starting with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. But this game can help us in that regard too: It gives us a bit of a break from what would be a long road trip. Now it starts off a bit differently than a trip like this normally would. I mean a 10-day road trip is usually pretty long, but we got to share this first part of the trip with our families in a special way, and I think this will help us down the road.
Even though we lost, we can learn from this. We know if we have a lead in the third, we have to keep going, we can't sit back and hope to win. We have to keep pushing like we did in the first two periods tonight. We have to help our goalie out. David Rittich was great tonight. He's a great goalie and we wish we would have gotten a shutout for him, but unfortunately not. We need to be better.
Thanks for joining me for this behind-the-scene look at the Heritage Classic. It was a lot of fun sharing these experiences with you.