Tkachuk looks to keep rolling when Flames host Devils (Jan 13, 2017)
CALGARY -- Heading into his rookie NHL season with the Calgary Flames, Matthew Tkachuk didn't know what to expect.
After scoring once and setting up another in Calgary's 3-2 win at home over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, Tkachuk has now put up eight goals and 19 assists in his first 40 professional games.
"I wouldn't have known what to say just because I'd never played in this league," said Tkachuk, who moved into a tie with Johnny Gaudreau at 27 points for second place on the Flames in scoring, just two points back of linemate Mikael Backlund. "I know what to expect from myself every night, but I don't know what to expect from the other teams yet. I probably would have said, 'Let's just wait and see.'"
While Tkachuk's impressive nine-game, point-scoring streak ended abruptly on Monday when Calgary lost 2-0 on the road to the Winnipeg Jets, the 19-year-old left winger is hoping to build off Wednesday's two-point performance and perhaps start a new streak when the Flames host the New Jersey Devils at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.
"Things have been going good for our line," said Tkachuk, who has found success playing alongside Backlund at center and Michael Frolik on right wing. "We seem to be producing more offense, so it's good to get a couple goals every once in a while."
Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan has been impressed with the composure Tkachuk has shown in his rookie campaign.
"He's surprised me," said Gulutzan. "For a young guy, I haven't seen that. I've seen talent in young players, a lot of it -- loads of it -- and competitiveness, but just the way he's managed the game and been able to play against the top players, I've not seen that."
The Flames may also benefit from the return of right winger Troy Brouwer from an eight-game absence due to a broken finger he sustained during a 4-1 win at home over the Vancouver Canucks on Dec. 23.
Brouwer practiced with the Flames on Thursday on a line with center Sean Monahan and left winger Kris Versteeg and is hoping to be cleared by team doctors to play against the Devils on Friday.
"Now it's getting up to game speed, making sure that I'm not making mistakes, trying to find that flow on the ice and just fit in," Brouwer told Flames TV. "Hopefully whoever I'm playing with will help me out, be patient for a period or two."
Meanwhile, the Devils will be looking to bounce back from a 3-2 overtime loss they suffered in Edmonton to the Oilers on Thursday night.
The Devils led 2-1 after two periods thanks to goals from Travis Zajac and Steven Santini before the Oilers rallied with goals by Patrick Maroon in the third and Leon Draisaitl in overtime.
"In the third period, we've got to lock that up," said Devils left winger Taylor Hall after the disappointing setback. "I feel like we sit back on leads sometimes and that's not the way to go especially against a team like that. There's a way to sit on leads, there's a smart way, and we didn't do that, so it's definitely tough to take."
After starting 2017 with two straight wins, the Devils have lost four in a row (0-2-2). New Jersey coach John Hynes doesn't mind that his squad will have to get right back at it against the Flames less than 24 hours after losing in OT to the Oilers.
"It will be good," said Hynes. "Any time you don't have the result you want, it's better to get right back at it, and we have that opportunity."