Flames' Tkachuk leads comeback win over Islanders
Calgary forward scores 2 goals including game-winner
Matthew Tkachuk leaped into the air and hugged Travis Hamonic after scoring the tiebreaking goal late in the third period.
Tkachuk's second in less than nine-and-a-half minutes came with 1:05 left and lifted the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Sunday night.
"It's always fun to put the puck in the net, especially tonight," said Tkachuk, who scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season in the win. "I was obviously so pumped to get the third goal there. I was just really happy because you think [after that] basically you play good defence and you get the win. That's why you're really excited."
Mark Jankowski also scored as the Flames pulled into a tie with Minnesota for the second wild card in the Western Conference. Mike Smith made 23 saves before leaving due to an injury with 2 seconds remaining, and David Rittich came on to close the game.
"It was a big one for us." - Matthew Tkachuk, who scored two goals, including 20th of season. <a href="https://t.co/uGetUUZFS3">pic.twitter.com/uGetUUZFS3</a>—@NHLFlames
Hamonic's return to New York
Hamonic had an assist on Tkachuk's late goal in in his first game back in Brooklyn since the Islanders dealt him to Calgary in the off-season. The defenceman, who had 26 goals and 120 assists in 444 games over seven seasons in New York, received a standing ovation from the crowd during a video tribute in the first period and was visibly emotional when discussing his time with the Islanders after Calgary's morning skate.
Hamonic called the whole day emotional and was pleased that the day ended with his team leaving New York with two important points in the standings.
"Take everything else out, what was happening, it was a hockey game," Hamonic said. "When you're playing against the East, not that it's free points by any means, but you have a chance to get two points and gain some ground on someone back in your division.
"I thought I was a little nervous in the first period and settled in afterward. I guess that's to be expected."
Injury to Mike Smith
Calgary head coach Glen Gulutzan didn't have an update on Smith after the game, but said it looked like the goalie just tweaked something in his lower body.
"It's tough, you never want to see it, but we'll deal with it when we know exactly what we're dealing with," Gulutzan said.
Casey Cizikas and Anthony Beauvillier scored for the Islanders, while Jaroslav Halak finished with 39 saves. It was the 17th time in the Islanders' last 23 games that they have surrendered 37 or more shots on goal.
Trailing 2-0, the Flames cut the deficit in half on Jankowski's power-play goal with 9 1/2 minutes left in the middle period. Tkachuk then tied it at 9:38 of the third.
"We had a pretty good first," Islanders head coach Doug Weight said. "We were intense to start. Then we started making bad decisions and turning pucks over."
Cizikas put the Islanders on the board early in the first period thanks to an extraordinary individual effort. The forward picked off the puck along the sideboards and then scored through Smiths legs while falling forward.
Beauvillier put New York up by two at 2:59 of the second period when a seemingly harmless shot from the high slot sneaked by Smith.