The 2018 calendar year has been full of mixed emotions for Flames fans. On the one hand, the team choked away a playoff spot in the second half of last season. On the other, the start to this season has been one of the most promising in recent memory and chock-full of exciting moments. With 2019 upon us, let’s look back at Calgary’s top five moments over the last 12 months.
5. THE SUPERFECTA!
Game 82 of last season was one of the most surreal experiences I can ever remember. The entire hockey world was still in shock following the unimaginable loss of so many members of the Humboldt Broncos just 24 hours prior. Everyone’s minds that night were elsewhere, but Mark Jankowski helped fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome escape reality, at least for a little while.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Jankowski went off for four goals in a 7-1 rout of the Vegas Golden Knights to send Flames fans into the offseason smiling. Jankowski scored in almost every possible way, too: shorthanded, on the powerplay, and a pair at even strength. Knowing how bad the second half of last season was, you can understand why this is the only submission from 2017-18 on this list.
4. COLORADO COMEBACK
Remember when David Rittich was celebrating in his crease before Johnny Gaudreau finished off the Colorado Avalanche on an overtime breakaway? That in and of itself was probably a top five moment, but it also came as part of a really impressive comeback at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Oct. 13.
After an atrocious start where Calgary allowed two goals in the first 2:40, the team settled down and gradually took over. When it was all said and done, the Flames were almost an 80% possession team in the final two periods and finally tied the game when Elias Lindholm wired home his fourth of the season with less than two minutes left.
It didn’t take long for Calgary to finish the Avalanche off; Gaudreau scored the breakaway winner just 46 seconds into overtime while Rittich had already started the party.
3. LAST MINUTE MAGIC
We all remember the magical 2014-15 season and how many improbable third period comeback wins the Flames put together. But Dec. 12 against the Philadelphia Flyers puts most of those wins to shame, because what we witnessed at the Saddledome that night was madness.
Despite outplaying Philly for a good chunk of that Wednesday night affair, Calgary trailed 5-3 with just over a minute remaining. Even after Rasmus Andersson scored his first NHL goal at 18:52, things still seemed fairly in the bag for the Flyers. But with seven seconds to go, Sean Monahan scored the game-tying goal, which allowed Gaudreau (again) to score the winner 35 seconds into overtime. To recap, that’s three goals in 1:43 to turn a silent Saddledome into an absolute madhouse.
From a historical perspective, Dec. 12 was only the third time in team history the Flames have erased a multi-goal deficit with less than two minutes remaining to come back and win. Not bad.
2. THE MARQUEE MATCHUP
When the Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning met on Dec. 20 of this year, it was a battle between two of the top teams in the NHL. Tampa sat number one overall while Calgary was one of a few teams tied for second in points. I can’t remember the last time a mid-season matchup involving the Flames had so much buzz surrounding it, and, to the credit of both teams, it lived up to the hype.
Calgary and Tampa went back and forth and shot-for-shot over 65 thoroughly entertaining minutes and it took seven rounds of a shootout for the visitors to walk away with a 6-5 win. Sure, the Flames didn’t get the two points, but they proved to everyone, including themselves, they can hang with the best of the best. It was a heck of a night.
1. THE BATTLE IS BACK
I’m not sure if Nov. 17 would be number one for most people, but it is for me. Round one of this season’s Battle of Alberta was as memorable and enthralling a regular season game I’ve seen live at the Saddledome I can remember. It had a little bit of everything as Calgary scored four unanswered to take a 4-2 win over the Oilers.
There were big hits, a few fights, and Matthew Tkachuk was at his rage-inducing best while burrowing right between the ears of then head coach Todd McLellan and a few of his players. Sure, the return engagement a few weeks later wasn’t nearly as exciting, but Nov. 17 was an absolute throwback to when this rivalry was one of the league’s best. The atmosphere was electric, the game was entertaining, and I won’t be forgetting this one for a long, long time.