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It was a bittersweet night for rookie center Mark Jankowski.
Jankowski scored four times [url=http://www.philadelphiaeaglesteamonlines.com/richard-rodgers-jersey]Authentic Richard Rodgers Jersey[/url] , and the Calgary Flames finished off a disappointing season with a 7-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
”Not the way we wanted it to end, we want to keep on playing, but definitely a building year,” said the 23-year-old Jankowski, who had just three points in his previous 18 games. ”I just take everything I learned this year from all the vets and use that as fuel in the summer to come back into camp and even better player.”
Calgary entered the night in an offensive funk, having mustered only nine goals over the previous nine games, eight of them losses. The seven goals was the club’s biggest offensive outburst since a 7-4 victory over St. Louis on Nov. 13.
”It’s one of those things. Tonight, for some reason, everything bounced in and I think we could have had even more,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. ”It’s nice to end it on that note, but it’s been a tough year and obviously a disappointing year.”
Before the game, players from both teams and the officials formed a circle at center ice for a moment of silence for the 15 people who lost their lives in the Humboldt Broncos bus accident.
”You have those guys, that community [url=http://www.authenticsmiamidolphins.com/cheap-mike-gesicki-jersey]Mike Gesicki Color Rush Jersey[/url] , the team, on your mind all day,” Giordano said. ”We’re one big community, the hockey community, there’s a lot of people feeling this one.”
Afterward, the Saddledome crowd broke into a chant of ”Broncos! Broncos!”
”We talked a lot to our guys about the emotion and the purity of the game,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. ”Just think about the young men on that bus, who would love to be in the seats that we are. That was their goal and we wanted to play as well as we can to honor that.”
Spencer Foo, Garnet Hathaway and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for the Flames (37-35-10), who missed the playoffs for the seventh time in the past nine seasons. A big factor was Calgary’s 17-20-4 home record, its worst mark since 2000-01.
Cody Eakin scored for Vegas (51-24-7), which finished first in the Pacific Division and will open the playoffs on home ice against Los Angeles. Vegas is the first modern-era expansion team in any of the four North America pro spots to win its division in its first season.
”Right from the start it’s been a fun season,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”It’s fun to be a part of this team and this organization through it all. I’m really proud of the way this team has done throughout the season. Playoffs are fun [url=http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-weston-richburg-jersey]http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-weston-richburg-jersey[/url] , intense, exciting. I’m looking forward to getting it going.”
Golden Knights veteran James Neal was impressed at how quickly the team gelled after being thrown together at the expansion draft.
”What impressed me most about our group is the consistency we played with, the way we rolled four lines, we counted on each player and needed each guy every night and every guy brought their game,” he said.
Down 3-0 after the first period, Vegas scored 51 seconds into the second. But the Flames responded with three more unanswered goals before the period ended.
Jankowski secured his first NHL hat trick with a short-handed goal at 18:06, bringing over 100 hats raining down onto the ice.
He completed the scoring at 1:32 of the third. It was Calgary’s first power-play goal in 14 games, snapping a 0-for-35 skid.
Jon Gillies had 26 stops for Calgary. Fleury gave up six goals on 18 shots before being replaced to start the third period. Malcolm Subban had 12 stops in relief.
NOTES: Both teams wore Humboldt Broncos decals on their helmet. The Flames also announced they were donating their $84,055 half of the 50/50 prize pot to those affected by Friday’s tragedy.
Golden Knights: Face Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs.
There’s a bit of masochist in Patric Hornqvist. Has to be.
How else to explain the thrill the Pittsburgh Penguins forward gets by planting himself in front of an opposing net and daring someone – be it a goaltender or defender typically within a stick’s reach of him – to move him out of the way by any means necessary?
Over the course of three periods on a given night, Hornqvist will be punched, pushed, slashed (both legally and illegally) and generally treated as a pi锟絘ta on skates. And here’s the thing. He likes it. A lot. The smile on his face even as he’s being chopped to the ice is a dead giveaway.
”I think he finds comfort in being a pain in the neck,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.
Sure [url=http://www.thebroncosfootballauthentic.com/daesean-hamilton-jersey-authentic]Youth DaeSean Hamilton Jersey[/url] , it’s not quite the career path the 31-year-old envisioned while growing up in Sweden, where the larger international ice sheets provided Hornqvist plenty of room to do as he pleased. That space has disappeared in the NHL, where the ice surface is smaller, the players bigger and faster, and the goals far harder to come by.
So Hornqvist has carved out a niche by volunteering to get to the places on the ice that aren’t for the meek – a 5-foot-11, 189-pound stockpile of kinetic energy. In the process, he’s become arguably the best of the net-front masters that will play a pivotal role in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hornqvist scored 29 times this season for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, most of them coming from in tight. Some on deflections. Others on rebounds. Others still when he managed to thrust his stick in the middle of chaos and find the order in it. Oh, and the puck, too.
They call the corners and the front of the net the ”dirty area.” Maybe, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Especially in the postseason.
”Usually it’s not the pretty goal that wins the game,” said Predators forward Scott Hartnell, no stranger to the mosh pit that doubles as the area just outside the goal crease. ”It’s the one-two-three-four whacks on it and it goes in.”
The goal that propelled the Penguins to a second title last June came not from Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang but by Hornqvist doing what he does as well as anyone in the NHL – collecting Justin Schultz’s shot off the end boards then banking it off Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and into the net late in Game 6 of the 2017 Stanley Cup finals.
”I love to be where it’s hot [url=http://www.chicagocubsteamshops.com/authentic-yu-darvish-jersey]Yu Darvish Jersey[/url] , especially in those areas in front of the net,” Hornqvist said. ”It’s probably the best place to be.”
And, in a weird way, it’s a pretty effective path to career longevity. Hornqvist just signed a five-year contract extension over the winter. Hartnell will turn 36 later this month. Tampa Bay’s Chris Kunitz – who filled a role similar to Hornqvist’s while helping the Penguins to three Cups before joining the Lightning – played in all 82 games this year for the Eastern Conference’s top seed at age 38.
Pain, it turns out, has its perks. Washington’s Tom Wilson, just 24, points to players like Hornqvist and Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds as a role model of sorts.
”(Simmonds) will tip the puck, he’ll turn and he’ll find it,” Wilson said. ”He’s strong enough to be able to get two or three chances. And you’ve got to be strong enough in order to be able to do something with it after you find it.”
Hornqvist brushes off the notion that he’s special, saying only ”I take pride in what I do out there.” He points out he scored 15 power-play goals this season – third most in the league – not so much because of any particular talent he may have but because he happens to play on the same unit as Crosby and Malkin.
Defenses can become so intent on trying to keep Pittsburgh’s two stars in check that Hornqvist has a knack of finding the open spot. And if the puck happens to show up there, too, even better.
Crosby isn’t so sure. Asked if there’s an art to Hornqvist’s approach to his job [url=http://www.clevelandindiansteamshops.com/authentic-cody-allen-jersey]Cody Allen Jersey[/url] , the two-time MVP nods.
”I think it’s a skill,” Crosby said. ”It takes a lot of determination, a lot of courage but there’s also some thought that goes into it, too. I think you can’t have one without the other and I think he’s able to find ways to create space and find pucks and battle all through that stuff in order to create goals there.”
It goes beyond putting the puck in the net. Hornqvist, Hartnell and the rest can be just as effective doing things that never show up on a goal sheet, be it creating a screen or occupying a pair of defenders or simply refusing to get out of the way.
”There’s obviously the guys that work well with the shooter, moving screens, on the same page,” Washington goaltender Braden Holtby said. ”And then there’s just the guys that they just get in there and kind of frustrate you and run interference and stuff like that. It’s more those tiny little jabs that throw you off balance that the ref or no one else sees.”
Hornqvist does it all. Rookie forward Zach Aston-Reese marvels at Hornqvist’s ability to both use his stick ”like an axe” while absorbing all manner of abuse without letting his frustration get the best of him.
”We played Washington and he had three guys punching him in the head and for him to be like cool, calm and collected and not retaliate, not drop his gloves,” Aston-Reese said. ”There’s a huge mental capacity to it.”
A capacity Hornqvist and the rest of his brethren will have to rely on.
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