TORONTO — Milan Lucic made it clear his 1,000th game in the NHL wouldn’t mean as much without Calgary securing a much-needed victory.
Johnny Gaudreau wound up delivering the goods against their former teammate in emphatic style.
The winger scored 36 seconds into overtime as the Flames defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 on Tuesday in the ninth and final meeting between the clubs this season.
“Personally, it’s a great achievement,” the bruising Lucic said of his milestone. “It makes it that much better when you get a big win.”
Gaudreau took a pass from Elias Lindholm on a 2-on-1 in the extra period before deking to the forehand for his 15th goal of the campaign on David Rittich, who made his Toronto debut after being acquired from Calgary in a trade late Sunday.
“Lindy does a really good job of handling that puck off his skates,” added Lucic, who’s also logged 124 playoff contests in his career. “Once he makes that pass through to Johnny, he’s almost automatic.
“Beauty by him.”
HANG IT IN A MUSEUM! pic.twitter.com/OkizzSB3Ew
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 14, 2021
Gaudreau, who also had an assist, said the Flames went through a couple shootouts in practice leading up to Monday’s trade deadline when Rittich was still with the team.
“I normally don’t go to my forehand,” he said. “I think I fooled him a little bit.”
Lindholm and Juuso Valimaki scored in regulation for Calgary (18-21-3), while Jacob Markstrom made 24 saves as the Flames picked up consecutive wins for the first time since mid-March ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Montreal for a game against the Canadiens _ the team they’re chasing for the North Division’s final playoff spot.
“A great teammate,” Gaudreau said of Lucic. “A guy that a lot of us in our locker room look up to. To be able to be part of his 1,000th game and get a win for him was a great night.”
“He looked confident and made some good saves for us. It was a good debut for him.”
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 14, 2021
Zach Hyman, with a goal and an assist, and Alexander Kerfoot replied for Toronto (28-11-4). Rittich, who was still mostly sporting Calgary gear, stopped 25 shots.
“It was tough,” Rittich said of playing his old mates. “I’ve got some (life-long) friends there.”
“Beautiful city, great guys,” he added of Toronto. “A bunch of beauties.”
John Tavares had two assists as the Leafs lost for the second time in as many nights after falling 4-2 in Montreal on Monday to snap a 9-0-1 run. Toronto finished 6-2-1 against Calgary in 2021 and sits seven points up on the Winnipeg Jets, who visit Scotiabank Arena on Thursday, for first in the North.
“He’s been great, loves to chat,” Tavares said of Rittich, who gave Jack Campbell a breather. “Quite the circumstances the last 48 hours for him. Probably the main reason we got a point.”