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Tkachuk brothers, family share memorable night at Flames-Senators game

Forwards play against each other in NHL for first time in Calgary's dramatic win

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

OTTAWA -- Brady Tkachuk was getting impatient.

The Ottawa Senators forward and his teammates just lost 2-1 on Sunday to the Calgary Flames, the team his older brother, Matthew Tkachuk, plays for. Now, there he was in the corridor between the locker rooms at Canadian Tire Centre, waiting for his sibling so the two could meet with the 35-plus family members in attendance.

"If he doesn't hurry up and get out here, I'm going to kill him," Brady said.

Brothers will be brothers. At times, loathing and loving each other become interchangeable emotions.

Sure enough, once Matthew emerged, Brady's frown morphed into a smile. They shared a heartfelt embrace. This was the first time Brady, 19, and Matthew, 21, played against each other. 

"It was so special," Brady said.

It was a bittersweet night for Brady. He scored his 14th goal of the season, but the Senators (22-35-5) lost their fourth consecutive game. They are last in the NHL with 49 points.

Matthew thought he'd scored too, but the first-period goal was taken off the board after the Senators won their challenge for goalie interference.

"It kind of [stunk] to get that one called back because you want to get scoring, but right now I'm happy we got the win and my brother got a goal," Matthew said. "My parents will be happy, I'll tell you that."

Video: Situation Room: Flames' goal overturned in 1st

For dad Keith and mom Chantal, it was like a dream.

Keith Tkachuk, 46, had an illustrious 19-year career in the NHL (1991-2010), scoring 1,065 points (538 goals, 527 assists) in 1,201 games for the Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers. Yet none of those accomplishments, those memories, those highlight-reel moments could compare to this one.

"I think this has got to be at the top of the list, no question about it," Keith said. "It was fun playing in the League a long time, but there is nothing better than watching your kids play. And when you see them play against each other for the first time, and one is just 21 and the other is just 19 in the National Hockey League, it's a lot of fun.

"It still hasn't sunk in yet. I love watching them play. It means the world to both my wife and I."

Chantal made certain the boys played nice too; she made them make a pact that they would not fight against each other in the game.

"No mother wants to see that," she said.

Asked if he had a say in the agreement, Keith smiled wryly and shrugged his shoulders.

"In our house, she rules," he said.

The boys didn't always play nice together; hence the agreement.

Back in 2006, for example, Matthew, 9, and Brady, 8, were playing mini-sticks in the wives' room at Savvis Center in St. Louis, where dad was playing for the Blues. Matthew saw his little brother wasn't looking and hit him from behind, opening a gash over Brady's eye.

"Growing up, especially when we were young, he was so much bigger than I was," Brady said. "He won everything and he'd beat me up. But the tides have turned. He knows not to mess with me anymore."

Video: CGY@OTT: Tkachuk brothers meet for first time in NHL

To Brady's point, he still brags that he was picked higher than Matthew in the NHL Draft. Brady was selected No. 4 by the Senators in 2018; Matthew was No. 6 by the Flames in 2016.

After Brady was drafted and the 2018-19 NHL schedule came out, Chantal circled Feb. 24 on her calendar, the day the Flames and Senators would play against each other.

Family members from Boston, Winnipeg and St.Louis came in to see the boys play. They all were wearing custom-made white jerseys Keith and Chantal made. On one side of the front said "Calgary," the other said "Ottawa." On the back of each one were the words "Tkachuk Brothers."

Sitting in Suite 104B at Canadian Tire Centre, they fought back tears when Brady and Matthew took the opening face-off.

"[Matthew] just told me he was taking the draw and the bench told me I'd be taking the draw," Brady said. "It was pretty cool. It was also cool that the fans loved it too."

After Mikael Backlund gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at 4:07 of the first period, Matthew thought he'd put Calgary up by two several minutes later. He even gestured up to the family box to celebrate, only to have the goal taken off the board after a review.

Brady tied the game 1-1 on a nifty breakaway deke at 15:38 of the second, then raised his arms in the direction of where his parents were sitting.

"I saw Matthew give them a point and knew if I scored, I wanted to let them know too," Brady said. "I was pretty excited. It was a special moment. I let the excitement get the best of me there."

Video: CGY@OTT: Tkachuk beats Rittich on breakaway

As the clock ticked down toward overtime, chatter started in the Tkachuk box that maybe, just maybe, the boys might square off as part of a shootout. But those hopes were dashed when Flames forward Austin Czarnik scored the winning goal with 41 seconds remaining.

As he thought about the loss afterward, Brady was momentarily frustrated. Then came the interaction with his family and a hug from his grandmother Geraldine, 71, who cried when he scored.

With that came perspective.

"I was just joking when I said I wanted to kill [Matthew]," he said. "He's been my mentor for a few years

"To be with all these people is what it's all about. Sharing a special night with special people."

It was all of that.

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