CALGARY — MacKenzie Weegar finally notched his first goal as a Flame on Saturday night and it was an important one.
Coming in game No. 37, Weegar scored the game-winner and added an assist for his first multi-point game since opening night to lead Calgary to a 3-2 win over the division rival Vancouver Canucks.
“It feels great. Even better with the two points, obviously,” said Weegar, who scored a career-high eight goals last season with Florida.
But you wouldn't have known the goal on a point shot at 14:17 of the second that made it 3-0 was of any significance with his muted celebration.
“It was a weird play. I honestly thought that it was going to be offside. (Chris Tanev) kept a good puck in and I didn't want to jinx it by overcellying,” said the Flame defenceman, who came over to Calgary with Jonathan Huberdeau in the off-season deal that sent Matthew Tkachuk to the Panthers.
His teammates were happy to see him finally break that goose egg.
“Weegs is the best, man. He's a great guy, great teammate. We joked about it this morning, we thought he was gonna get one and he did,” said Blake Coleman. “We're happy for him. He's a big part of our team. It's gonna be the first of many, sometimes it's just funny how it works like that.”
Weegar also helped orchestrate Coleman's short-handed goal five minutes earlier, springing Rasmus Andersson, who set up Coleman on a two-on-one.
“It was a turnover at the blue line. I knew that they were kind of tired. I heard the coaches yelling at them to change, so I hung on to the puck a bit,” Weegar said. “I was actually looking for (Coleman) to go for a breakaway. But Ras was yelling at me and I just got it to him.”
Coleman had a game-high seven shot attempts that left him lamenting that he didn't score more than once.
“I'm gonna go home and do a bonfire to the hockey gods and burn some stuff,” said Coleman with a chuckle. “Frustrating but we got the win, so the one was enough tonight.”
Elias Lindholm also scored for Calgary (18-13-7), which has points in 12 of its last 15 (8-3-4) games.
"We're on the right track,” said Lindholm.
"I don't think our first two periods were good. Especially me. I made too many turnovers, too many simple mistakes,” Pettersson said. “Always try to make the hard play so I've got to definitely be better.”
Before losing Thursday in Winnipeg, the Canucks had won seven in a row in opposition rinks.
“We've been playing great on the road so it's disappointing that we didn't come home with any points on this trip,” said Canucks goaltender Spencer Martin. “We're going to have to bounce back and make it really hard to play in Vancouver."
Martin had 27 saves. His record slips to 11-6-1.
Jacob Markstrom made 22 stops for Calgary to improve to 12-9-4.
The inability to generate any momentum with the man advantage haunted Vancouver in the second period as they had three power plays but failed to score and were outshot 3-2 by the Flames' penalty killers, and outscored 1-0.
"Sometimes your best players have to be your best players, and I didn't think our best players in that second period were our best players,” said Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau. “Consequently when that happens you get behind the 8-ball."
Dries got one back for Vancouver at 15:28 of the second.
The resilient Canucks then climbed within one at 4:06 of the third when Pettersson buried a rebound, but Vancouver could not find the tying goal although they pushed hard.
Calgary played the second half of the game with 11 forwards after Brett Ritchie left early in the second period after appearing to injure his hand or arm in a collision along the boards.
LEAVING HIS MARK
Markstrom continues to play well against the Canucks, who he played with for seven seasons before signing with Calgary as a free agent in 2020. He is now 9-3-1 against Vancouver with a .921 save percentage.
Lindholm's goal comes in his 700th NHL game. Selected fifth overall in the 2013 NHL draft by Carolina, his first 374 games came with the Hurricanes collecting 188 points (64 goals, 124 assists). In 326 games for Calgary, he has 295 points (129 goals, 166 assists).
After icing the same forward configurations the past three games, Boudreau shuffled the personnel on all four lines with the biggest change seeing C Bo Horvat get two new wingers in JT Miller and Curtis Lazar. The changes included two new forwards inserted into the lineup in Dries, scratched the past three games, and RW William Lockwood, who was recalled on Friday from Abbotsford (AHL).
Canucks: Open a two-game homestand on Tuesday against the New York Islanders.
Flames: Head to Winnipeg to take on the Jets on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2022.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press