NEWARK — Johnny Gaudreau has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in his hockey career. The 24-year old was an All-State selection in high school, a member of Team USA’s gold-winning Team at the World Junior championships, a Hobey Baker Award winner in college and an All-Star every season he’s been in the NHL, winning the Lady Byng Trophy last season for “sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.”
But one thing that has eluded the New Jersey native is scoring an NHL goal at home.
In his eighth-career game against the Devils, Gaudreau took a pass from Micheal Ferland and deked New Jersey goaltender Keith Kinkaid five-hole for his first-career NHL goal in the Garden State as part of a three-goal flurry in the second period as the Calgary Flames skated to a 3-2 victory at Prudential Center.
“I knew there was a guy coming on my far side from behind, I tried to shield him off, brought it to my forehand and back to my backhand and slipped it five-hole,” Gaudreau said of his 18th goal of the season. “It’s exciting — I’ve never had the chance to score here before so to do it in front of family and friends here watching me is pretty special.”
Gaudreau and his family, who hail from Salem in South Jersey, are self-professed Philadelphia Eagles fans, and on the same day the team celebrated its first Super Bowl with a ticker tape parade in the City of Brotherly Love, nearly 40 friends and family, including his dad, Guy, were on hand to see him light the lamp.
“A lot of them sacrificed the parade to come watch me tonight,” Gaudreau said with a laugh. “My family are big Eagles fans, a lot of friends are Eagles fans, and they came to watch me instead which makes me want to play well in front of them. I saw them in the stands and in warm-ups. It’s a nice little token to see your family and know they’re watching. It’s great to come back to the east coast. Don’t get to play here much. Don’t get to see family much so when you do you try to make the most of it.”
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) February 9, 2018
After Gaudreau gave the Flames a 2-1 lead, the former Gloucester Catholic star who skated for the NJSIAA High School State Championships on the same Prudential Center ice in 2010, set up Sean Monahan 3:32 later for his second of the game, team-leading 27th and the game-winner.
“Take ’em however you can,” Monahan said after registering his third straight game-winning goal. “We were snapping around there in the second and we’ll take any bounce we can. I think it’s just smart hockey. You go for a shot off the pad or what not, guys are creeping in, I got a lucky bounce there and an open net but yeah it was a great play.”
After Monahan put Calgary up 3-1 after two, New Jersey slashed the deficit to one after Pavel Zacha scored on the power play with assists from Brian Boyle and Taylor Hall 7:23 into the third. With the face-off deep in the offensive zone, the Devils pulled Kinkaid (22 saves) with just over a minute remaining but couldn’t solve Flames’ goaltender David Rittich again.
Appearing in just his 10th NHL game and making his seventh start of the season, the Czechoslovakia keeper was solid if not spectacular in turning aside 30 of 32 shots to improve to 5-1-2.
“Two points,” Rittich, who has not lost a game in regulation since Decmeber, said. “You could have good numbers but you can lose 1-0. Two points. Nothing else matters. Two points — that’s the most important.”
The Devils outshot the Flames 32-25, including 12-1 in the third period, but come up short for the second straight game to stand 27-18-8.
Calgary has won three straight — all off the stick of Monahan — to improve to 28-18-8. For the Flames, its a welcome sigh of relief after going winless in their previous six. Remarkably, Calgary is just 13-13-3 at home at the Scotiabank Saddledome compared to 15-5-5 on the road.
“White jerseys — I think we should wear them everywhere,” Flames’ defenseman Travis Hamonic said in reference to the road sweaters. “I don’t know if there’s anything 100 percent that you can point to but I think our work ethic, when we’re in these battles, we’re making plays. I think we’ve relished the role of playing well on the road and at this point in the season you have to.”
The line of Gaudreau, Monahan and Ferland have combined for 65 goals and 81 assists this season and are plus-48.
“We’re at our best when we’re moving our feet, when you feel that energy on the bench and in the locker room — that’s when we’re winning games,” Monahan said. “We’re confident, we’re playing for each other and sticking to the script.”
“It’s great. We’re good friends off the ice and we’ve been playing together for three or four years now,” Gaudreau said of Monahan. “The chemistry keeps building. It’s a lot of fun to play with him. He’s great teammate, a great leader on our team and a team-first guy which is why he wears a letter on our team.”
Johnny’s father, Guy, a longtime coach at Gloucester Catholic who guided the Rams to the New Jersey state final against Delbarton in 2010, was thrilled to be back and under different circumstances.
“We went out west for three games in October but it’s hard. I don’t get to see him that much but it’s fun to see him play,” Guy, whose family traveled an hour-and-a-half up I-95 for the game, said. “I’m still involved with Gloucester Catholic, still coaching teams at Hollydell Rink. It’s hard it’s so far away.”
“It was a lot of fun playing in front of them. I have a ton of family and friends here…when I do get to play in front of them, you try and make the most of it.” pic.twitter.com/u27khQDZtP
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) February 9, 2018
In the midst of a six-game road trip, Calgary plays the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday and the New York Islanders in Long Island on Sunday before heading to Boston to play the Bruins next Tuesday.
Guy is planning on being there every step of the way while also hopefully catching his other son, Matthew, when he plays for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers against the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League on Saturday.
Add it all up and the Gaudreau’s are looking to catch at least four of their son’s games over the next five days.
“The state of hockey in New Jersey is just growing like crazy,” Guy said. “With boys both playing we’re still very involved in hockey. Every year, there’s more and more kids going places. I remember when John and Kenny Agostino of Delbarton played in the state championship here. Bruce Shatel… they had a hell of a team that year, they were so good. A lot of good memories.”
#Hockey: a goal and an assist from #JohnnyHockey makes for a proud papa bear as @GCRamsHockey coach Guy Gaudreau gives his son the thumbs up! @MikeMorrealeNHL @PaulBrunoHS @NJ_Hockey @HockeyAdvantage @BCHockey #CGYvsNJD #njhockey pic.twitter.com/LAIqgO6xTy
— John Christian Hageny (@JCCSPORTS) February 9, 2018
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames celebrates his second-period goal against the New Jersey Devils with teammates Micheal Ferland #79, Sean Monahan #23 and Travis Hamonic #24 on February 8, 2018 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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