SAN JOSE – The only thing more stunning than Matthew Tkachuk’s latest goal-of-the-year contender was the list of Flames goal scorers before him:
Milan Lucic, Zac Rinaldo, Mark Jankowski and Tobias Rieder.
Prior to the Flames’ 6-2 win over the Sharks, the quartet had combined for just 12 goals all season.
Yet, there were the first three of them, just one fight away from a Gordie Howe hat trick with 30 minutes left in the game.
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Truth is. Lucic should have earned the honours earlier when he dropped the mitts and tussled with Stefan Noesen, but he was just given a roughing minor.
“Usually when you drop the gloves and throw a punch it’s a fighting major,” chuckled Lucic. “So, we can count it, I guess.”
The cherry on top of it all was Tkachuk’s jaw-dropper.
Moving in from the left wing, in tight on Aaron Dell, Tkachuk put his stick between his legs and roofed the Flames fifth goal of the night past the frozen netminder.
The replay drew a collective set of ohs and ahs from the crowd as the Flames celebrated what would end up being their second win in a row on this four-game road trip.
“I didn’t even think about it at the time – it was just the only way I thought I could score,” shrugged Tkachuk.
“That’s an impressive goal,” added Mikael Backlund, whose seventh of the season late in the night was the team’s third power-play goal.
“I mean, he’s obviously worked on it a lot. The way he did it in Nashville, that sick goal. Last year, he had that one on Long Island. In three different situations he’s done it, so it’s very impressive. It’s a slick move.”
It may not quite compare with Tkachuk’s long-distance overtime tweener on Halloween in Nashville, but the debate is an interesting one.
The second straight six-goal effort from the Flames continued the momentum built in Vancouver Saturday by opening with a 3-0 lead they never looked back on.
Perhaps the biggest goal of the night came midway through the game with the Flames clinging to a 3-2 lead that was repeatedly threatened by wave after wave of offensive forays from the Sharks.
Jankowski’s redirect of a Lucic pass gave the Flames some breathing room they expanded on with two power-play goals in the third.
“I get more excited when they score than when I do,” said Tkachuk, of the impact goals from depth players can have, especially later in the season.
“I thought Janks’ and Docs’ (Derek Ryan) lines have been the two best lines on this road trip so far.”
Playing without defencemen Mark Giordano and Travis Hamonic, who was placed on injured reserve earlier in the day following an examination with doctors in Calgary, the Flames pieced together a much better effort than the showing they had in a 3-1 loss to the Sharks last week.
Lucic, who finished with three points, opened the scoring four minutes in with a back door power-play goal that was identical to the one he and Backlund combined for Saturday.
Thirty-four seconds later Rieder struck again, before Rinaldo banged in a rebound midway through the first.
Rinaldo was only in the lineup because Sam Bennett has the flu – part of a next-man-up theme the Flames have thrived on this week. His goal came while on a rare shift with Johnny Gaudreau and Monahan.
“I actually went out there to deal with a situation that was at hand,” smiled Rinaldo, who was sent onto the ice after he implored the coach to do so.
“Nothing came of it. I had to stay on the ice. A nice situation for me and I got to put it in. It’s nice.”
It helped earn him the team’s police services cowboy hat for player of the game.
“I’m not a big fan of cowboy hats, per se, but when the team gives it to me I’ll wear it with pride,” said Rinaldo.
David Rittich won his second consecutive start, making 34 saves, giving the Flames the swagger back that they seemed to lose over a three-game losing streak last week.
The Flames play in Los Angeles Wednesday and Anaheim Thursday.