Saturday’s second-intermission entertainment included an on-ice magic show by local illusionist Derek Selinger.
Turns out, the Calgary Flames were saving some trickery of their own.
This would have been their most impressive third-period comeback yet — after all, this script-flip came against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues — except that they weren’t able to finish the job in a 3-2 overtime loss.
Flames defenceman TJ Brodie was busted for holding during the bonus session, and David Perron buried a man-advantage marker to end it.
This was a measuring-stick moment for the locals.
After a two-period taste of the NHL’s latest recipe for success, a serving of the stifling and disciplined style that was on the display during the Blues’ title quest last spring, the Flames again showed the resilience that has become a calling card over the past several seasons.
Fan-fave forward Matthew Tkachuk ignited the spark — and spoiled Jordan Binnington’s shutout bid — with nine minutes remaining in regulation, accepting a feed from linemate Andrew Mangiapane and managing to evade a stick-check in the slot before going glove-side.
With less than four minutes to go, stay-at-home defenceman Travis Hamonic jumped into the forecheck during four-on-four action, created all sorts of havoc and found himself alone out front with the puck on his blade, cashing in the tying tally on the backhand.
To salvage a point against a Blues squad that has now won seven straight is a feat, but the Flames will also be stewing about missed opportunities to really make a statement.
Ivan Barbashev and Conn Smythe Trophy-winning centre Ryan O’Reilly provided Saturday’s lamp-lightings for the Blues, who improve to 12-3-3 in their perch atop the Western Conference standings.
The Flames (10-7-3) are now idle until Wednesday, when they capped this four-game homestand with a date against the Dallas Stars (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet One/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
It looked like it hurt.
Fortunately, Sam Bennett didn’t sustain any sort of serious injury.
During Thursday’s dance with the Devils, Bennett was hanging out near the edge of the blue paint when Mark Giordano’s rocket from the point plunked him right on the laces.
“And then Gio comes to the bench and says ‘I got all of that one,’ ”Flames head coach Bill Peters relayed the following day. “Not exactly what I wanted to hear.”
This, however, is what everyone had hoped to see — despite missing one practice to rest his sore wheel, the sparkplug winger was in the lineup against the Blues. Bennett laid the licks of the night, too, dropping Vince Dunn on the forecheck and drilling Mackenzie MacEachern in front of the benches.
Oliver Kylington isn’t moping about his demotion.
Just three days after being reassigned to the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat, the 22-year-old defenceman notched a hat-trick and racked up five points in Saturday’s 7-6 loss to the Tucson Roadrunners.
To put that stat-line in perspective, he had zero goals and one helper in 14 appearances with the big club before being dispatched to the minors to log major minutes and work on his penalty-killing.
It wasn’t all good news — with four points on the power-play, Kylington still finished with a minus-3 rating and the Heat had their seven-game point-streak snapped.
Brad Treliving’s top priority is building a winner at the Saddledome, but the Flames general manager snuck away from the arena earlier this week to provide a pep-talk to the University of Calgary Dinos football squad.
Must have been a good one.
The Dinos captured a conference crown Saturday, defeating the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the Hardy Cup showdown. They will host the McMaster Marauders next weekend in a national semifinal, with the victor advancing to the Vanier Cup.