Punctuating his 34-save shutout with a primal scream, David Rittich celebrated the kind of win that can turn a season. Exactly the kind the Flames needed.
Facing the NHL’s top team with a winless backup who learned of his start hours earlier, the Flames posted what could serve as a monumental turning point.
Consider some of the streaks the Flames 3-0 win over Toronto ended:
It was the Flames’ first win in four games. Rittich’s first win in nine decisions. Matthew Tkachuk’s first goal in 10 games. Sean Monahan’s first goal in 13 games.
And by blanking the Leafs’ power play on all seven occasions, including a lengthy 5-on-3, the Flames stopped some historic runs:
First time in 17 games Auston Matthews was held off the score sheet. First time in five games he didn’t score the game’s opening goal. First Calgary Flame ever to shut out the Leafs in Toronto.
“Big stage for us,” said Tkachuk, whose power-play tip-in midway through the game was his 100th career goal.
“Little extra motivation right before the game, finding out some things. So we were ready to go from puck drop today. We wanted to try to prove to ourselves especially that we still know we’re a great hockey team.”
He wouldn’t elaborate on the motivators, but whatever they were, the team responded for a start that saw Sam Bennett score four minutes in for the Flames’ first goal in a first…