Monahan scores winner for Calgary on 19th birthday

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CALGARY, Alberta -- Sean Monahan's 19th birthday present came one day early.
Monahan, the sixth-overall selection in the 2013 draft, scored for the fourth consecutive game and netted the biggest tally of them all so far, the third-period winner in a 3-2 victory over Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
When Monahan was born, Brodeur was awaiting the lockout of 1994 to conclude to begin his third season of NHL action, and that wasn't lost on the young Flames center.
"It's always nice to get a win before your birthday," Monahan said. "Growing up watching (Brodeur) play and now scoring a goal on him, it's pretty awesome. It's even better that it's the game winner."
Monahan, who has points in five consecutive games to start his NHL career, quietly worked his way behind a pair of Devils defenders when fellow rookie Sven Baertschi spied him and fired a beautiful cross-ice pass for him to convert with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.
The exuberant reaction from both youngsters was priceless.
"I think the whole rink was excited." Baertschi said. "We were doing great things on the penalty kill, and you've got to give those guys a compliment. They did a great job and gave us energy, and we capitalized."
It capped a see-saw game for a Flames team that opened the season with a 3-0-2 record after being pegged by most as a bottom feeder.
With the score tied at two apiece and the Devils carrying all the momentum, the Flames needed a spark. They received it in an unlikely way. During a lengthy series in the Calgary zone, Lance Bouma had two shot blocks and Kris Russell one in a wild sequence.
"Someone didn't see the same game as I watched," coach Bob Hartley said after he noticed Bouma was credited with only two blocked shots for the whole game. "Boums should be in the goalie department, not as a forward.
"We were diving, we were desperate. I'm sure tomorrow morning, there's going to be a few bruises on those bodies."
Flames goalie Joey MacDonald made his fourth consecutive start and was very solid with a 19-save outing.
Dennis Wideman and Mark Giordano also scored for the Flames, while Adam Henrique and Dainius Zubrus replied for the Devils, who are winless to start the season (0-2-3).
"The season is long," Devils forward Patrik Elias stated. "We want to get a win here finally, but we played well. The second and third (periods), we played better hockey. I thought we were the better team."
Still, you must wonder whether frustration will enter the dressing room.
"We aren't 30 games in, are we? It's five games and we were doing the right things out there," Elias replied. "I've been through it many times. It takes a little thing, a little play, to turn things around and find a way to win, not find a way to lose, which we did again tonight."
The Flames certainly are a surprise team, but are now facing a tough five-game road swing which begins in Anaheim.
"We feel good but there are no stats right now that allows us to sit on those five games," Hartley said. "There is still lots of hockey to be played. There is still 77 games to be played. It is just a matter of making sure we keep building. My job is to create expectations over here and raise expectations. We played five games. Now we have a big, big road trip ahead of us against great hockey clubs. This is going to be a tough road trip for us and I love the timing of this. That will allow us to really gauge this team."
NOTES: Flames RW David Jones (upper body) was injured in the previous game and will be out on a week-to-week basis, therefore joining LW Michael Cammalleri (hand) and C Matt Stajan (leg) on the shelf. Calgary summoned C Blair Jones from the American Hockey League's Abbotsford Heat, but he did not dress. Instead, RW Tim Jackman suited up for his first game of the season. ... After being a healthy scratch last game, D Adam Larsson, the 2011 first-round draft choice in his third NHL season, was back in the lineup. ... Flames D Chris Breen is back playing after offseason shoulder surgery. Breen, hasn't played a NHL game but is on the radar to skate with the big club, but is first doing a conditioning assignment in the minors and will return to Calgary. He would have to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL on a full-time basis. ... With the first-period goal by C Adam Henrique, the Devils opened the scoring in four consecutive games. ... Calgary RW Jiri Hudler has a point in all five games this season. His career best is six consecutive games. ... The Devils (0-2-3) continue their five-game trip Sunday in Winnipeg.

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