Over his first three NHL post-season appearances, Johnny ‘Hockey’ Gaudreau wasn’t the star of the show.
Despite being the team’s leading rookie scorer in the regular season — his twenty-four tallies and sixty-four points were by and large some of the best numbers put up by an NHL rookie all year — his first three NHL playoff games saw the undersized winger post two assists and no goals of his own. Instead, defenseman Kris Russell — who finished the first three games with two goals and a helper — and rookie Sam Bennett (one goal and one assist in the post-season, one assist in his NHL regular season debut) were the team’s more consistent post-season heroes.
With just three minutes off the clock in the first period of game four, though, Gaudreau and the top line finally found their footing.
Jiri Hudler drew the Canucks to the left side of the screen (pulling Eddie Lack slightly to the right, although he maintained better positioning than Ondrej Pavelec in the iconic Corey Perry goal Monday night), then passed to Dennis Wideman — who chipped the puck to Gaudreau, who fired it in.
Although the Canucks would answer with a Henrik Sedin goal of their own just minutes later, the Flames’ top line — and top defensive pairing, as both Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman continued to dominate play — pulled the team ahead by yet another goal; on just three shots, both Johnny Gaudreau and Wideman managed to notch the puck past Lack to maintain a one-goal lead in the first period.
Although a few other young players have been doing well for both sides — in addition to Bennett’s strong play, rookie Bo Horvat for the Vancouver Canucks has tallied a goal and two assists of his own over the first three contests — it’s clear that if Gaudreau gets himself on a roll, the Flames may become the team that’s impossible to beat this post-season.