At this point in the season, we know how Darryl Sutter responds to certain things.
So there should be no surprise that he downplayed this newsworthy event and milestone moment.
Or just how hard it is for today’s National Hockey League player to reach the 100-point plateau.
“I don’t care,” scoffed the Calgary Flames head coach. “Does that win a Stanley Cup? I’d rather have the guys that win the scoring race in the playoffs.”
okay, okay. We get it.
His team isn’t quite there yet, albeit they’re closer to a playoff spot after Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over the visiting Seattle Kraken which improved them to 45-19-9 and 99 points with nine games remaining.
But as for Johnny Gaudreau, the achievement of notching his 100th and 101st points was, contrary to Sutter’s dismissal, a really big deal.
Particularly the way it occurred.
Down 3-1 heading into the third period with Sutter making a late-game goaltending change sending in Dan Vladar to shake things up, Calgary found itself on a penalty kill. The Flames were losing … and down a man … late in the game … while Gaudreau was chasing his 100th point for the first time in his career … and the Flames had just returned home after sweeping a four-game road trip and continue to gun for a playoff spot and 100 points themselves.
This couldn’t be the way the game would go. Could it?
Then, 38 seconds later, came Vince Dunn’s elbowing penalty on Blake Coleman. Then, seven seconds after that, came Yanni Gourde’s penalty on Gaudreau.
At that point, the entire Saddledome crowd had an inkling about what was going to happen. An Elias Lindholm shot went wide. A Matthew Tkachuk wrist shot was saved by Kraken netminder and former Calgary Hitmen netminder Chris Driedger.
A smart pass by Gaudreau to Tkachuk.
“It’s cool,” Gaudreau said. “It was an exciting game. I didn’t think (the 100th) point was going to come there for a little bit. Then I just made a little pass down to Chucky and tried to go seam Lindy, and it bounced right back to him, and he fired it in the net.
“It was a big one for us.”
Gaudreau’s assist helped him reach 100 points for the first time in his career with 34 goals and 66 points in 73 games played. (He then added another assist later.) It made him the third-fastest player in franchise history to hit the mark in a season, behind Kent Nilsson (64 games played) and Bob MacMillan (68 games played with the Atlanta Flames).
Shortly after the crowd broke into JOHN-NY, JOHN-NY, JOHN-NY chants, the momentum carried to Andrew Mangiapane who knotted the game 3-3. It was a big goal for the winger, too, as he snapped a 12 game goal-less drought.
Tkachuk went on to turn the hat-trick in the win.
Noah Hanifin put the finishing touches on this one, scoring on another Flames power play with 5:50 remaining in the third period.
It capped a four-goal frame for the home side, which hadn’t had a lead all evening and, for the most part, were playing pretty casually since the puck dropped.
In a lackadaisical opening frame from the hosts, the Flames were down 1-0 early after Ryan Donato was set-up beautifully by Matty Beniers, who notched his first NHL point in his first NHL game. Beniers is the Kraken’s first-ever draft pick, selected second overall in 2021 and inked an entry-level NHL deal on Monday, fresh out of the NCAA’s University of Michigan.
It was a solid start for the visitors, who’d lost to the Flames 4-1 on Sunday. While Tkachuk knotted the score 1-1, the Kraken would go on to score a pair in the second period.
Former Calgary Hitmen forward Victor Rask and Adam Larsson replied for the visitors in a tough middle frame for Flames starter Jacob Markstrom.
Vladar led the team out of the dressing room in the third period as Markstrom’s night was over after three goals on 15 shots.
It was an admirable performance from the back-up, just what you need down the stretch, as the friendly Czech stopped all seven shots he faced.
He also stood tall in a late penalty kill when Mangiapane was tagged for elbowing.
“You gotta win third periods,” Sutter said. “It’s not always going to be great, but if you win a third period, you can win hockey games.”
An interesting statistic from Tuesday’s game — the team was 1-12-2 when trailing after two periods.
Guess they bucked the trend…
MORE ON GAUDREAU
Also another cool note — Gaudreau notched his 101st point when he unselfishly passed the puck up to Tkachuk for the empty-netter and his hat-trick marker.
But everyone knew who the real hero was on this night.
“It was cool,” Tkachuk said of Gaudreau’s 100th milestone. “Us, as linemates, and teammates, I’d be lying to you if we said we weren’t trying to get it for him and thinking about it for most of the last couple games, sitting at 99. It’s pretty cool to be linked to that with him. That’s very cool for me.
“It just speaks to the year he’s having. We’re not done yet. But it’s very cool for him to get it now. Not many guys can say they’ve hit 100.”
And, despite Sutter’s dismissal, it’s a tough thing for a player to do.
“I’ve never gotten it and I’ve never even come close,” Tkachuk said with a chuckle. “He’s been knocking on the door for a couple years. I remember him saying him a couple weeks ago that the year he sat on 99, it wasn’t the best feeling after that.
“It’s very hard. You see a couple guys a year, maybe. Maybe. Pretty cool.”
And, truth be told, Sutter began Tuesday’s post-game press conference acknowledging he was happy for Gaudreau to get his 100th point off his back.
“He’d probably say it was on the back of his mind,” Sutter said. “Hopefully he’s got about 20 more in him.”
C Ryan Carpenter, C Adam Ruzicka, D Erik Gudbranson, D Oliver Kylington, and D Juuso Valimaki were the Flames scratches … More tidbits about Gaudreau’s milestone moment: Gaudreau is the first player to collect 100-plus points for a Darryl Sutter-coached team since Jeremy Roenick racked up 107 with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1993-94. In fact, Sutter never had a 90-point player on his roster during his days as skipper in San Jose or Los Angeles or in his first stint as bench boss in Calgary. (He was general manager when Jarome Iginla put up a career-high 98 points in 2007-08.) … Next up for Calgary? Thursday’s date with the visiting Vegas Golden Knights (7 pm, Sportsnet 360/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).