The Calgary Flames needed an offensive spark. Jonathan Huberdeau, their top talent and highest-paid forward, was stapled to the bench for the entire third period.
And while his buddies were able to get the job done, clawing back for a 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators, that won’t be the hottest topic in the Tim Hortons lineups on Wednesday morning.
Huberdeau, just a few months into an eight-year, US$84-million contract and with only six points in a dozen dates so far this season, didn’t touch the ice during Tuesday’s final frame at the Saddledome. Instead, the struggling left-winger was stuck spectating as Noah Hanifin and Blake Coleman provided the clutch goals.
Dillon Dube and Nazem Kadri also scored for the Flames, who have now notched back-to-back Ws for the first time in the 2023-24 campaign, while Jacob Markstrom delivered 17 saves in the home crease and Nick DeSimone and Yegor Sharangovich each contributed a couple of assists. For DeSimone, it was his first multi-point outing at the NHL level.
The out-of-town team opened Tuesday’s scoring on a double re-direct, with Michael McCarron getting the final touch. The deficit doubled on a major breakdown, with a pair of Predators slipping behind blue-line buddies Rasmus Andersson and MacKenzie Weegar, and Kiefer Sherwood ultimately capitalizing on the two-on-none rush.
Dube started the comeback late in the middle stanza, although this particular play was all Nikita Zadorov. The hard-charging Zadorov hauled the puck into enemy territory before a nifty dish to Dube, who ripped a one-timer to snap out of a seven-game goal drought.
Hanifin evened things up early in the third, cruising into the high slot as Sharangovich played keep-away from two opponents and then ensuring that his buddy was rewarded with an assist.
Just 99 seconds later, after another top-shelf sizzler, the hosts had pulled ahead. Coleman used rookie Connor Zary as a decoy, pondering a pass before calling his own number on a two-on-one rush.
Kadri sealed the result with a late empty-netter.
On each of Calgary’s third-period tallies, Huberdeau was waiting by the gate to congratulate his teammates. He finished the night with no points and zero shots on net in 14:24 of icetime.
The Flames (4-7-1) will now hit the road for a three-game sojourn that includes stops in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
Wes Gilbertson and Danny Austin have been covering the Flames for years and know what makes the team tick. Have questions? They have the answers – or the contacts to track them down. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org