Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames rookie Walker Duehr the difference-maker against San Jose
By Ryan Pike10 months ago
On Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Calgary Wranglers handed the San Diego Gulls a 6-0 loss. On Saturday afternoon, a Wranglers product, rookie winger Walker Duehr, was the difference-maker in a 5-3 Calgary Flames victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Playing in his 21st NHL game – on the occasion of teammate Mikael Backlund’s 900th NHL appearance – Duehr scored a goal to tie the game in the second period and set up Nazem Kadri’s game-winning goal in the third period. The two-point effort was Duehr’s second multi-point game of the season and earned him first star honours.
Both of Duehr’s points were big, timely contributions.
His goal, tying the game at 3-3, came after the Sharks scored twice within 22 seconds to take a 3-2 lead. But the Sharks’ lead lasted just 25 seconds, as Trevor Lewis chased down an errant puck play in the Sharks zone and found Duehr to Kaapo Kahkonen’s right for a one-timer.
“It was a big goal for us, that’s for sure,” said Kadri. “We were a bit flat there for a second, obviously. The boys go out there and get a big goal to rally us back in. And obviously it gives you kind of an energy boost at home. Anytime you can respond with a goal that quickly is a huge bonus.”
In the third period, the Flames shuffled their lines a little bit, putting Duehr and Milan Lucic with Kadri. The line rewarded the coaching staff with the go-ahead goal, with Duehr protecting the puck early on the sequence, then throwing the puck on net for Kadri to bat in for the goal that stood as the game-winner.
Saturday was the 53rd day that Duehr has spent on the big club’s roster and the 20th game he’s dressed for this season. He’s been in and out of the lineup recently as the club has shuffled around their lineup to find chemistry following the trade deadline – he’s dressed for six of the club’s last 10 games.
Head coach Darryl Sutter pointed to consistency being the key to Duehr being effective in his role.
“He’s learning to be a consistent player, just like all the other young guys,” said Sutter. “He knows the role, so then it’s being able to play that role at this level. That’s the whole thing with him.”
The Flames seem destined to play more close games between now and the end of the regular season. Following close losses, they’ve lamented the lack of individuals stepping up in key moments – with big goals or big saves.
On Saturday, Duehr was the individual who made key differences at key times in the game. He’s aspiring to be an everyday NHL player. More showings like Saturday’s, where he excelled within his role and tilted the game in his club’s favour, will translate that dream into reality.
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