PHILADELPHIA — Jonathan Huberdeau wasn’t sure he’d done this before.
Dillon Dube didn’t think he’d hear the end of it.
You never want to be accused of being a selfish teammate, but sometimes you simply need to take aim and fire. That certainly proved true Monday as the Calgary Flames continued their travels with a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
Huberdeau and Dube got the ball rolling by cashing on separate two-on-one rushes, each pondering the pass before letting ’er rip instead.
“It’s like empty nets … ” said Flames associate coach Kirk Muller after his squad picked up a second consecutive win. “We always say, ‘There’s one time you can be selfish in hockey, and that’s when the goalie is pulled. So don’t be looking for that extra play, just bury it.’ And it’s the same thing for two-on-ones. We’ve talked as a team about the right opportunity and making your play and capitalizing when you get those opportunities. We had a couple in the first period, like you saw, and it makes a big difference when you bury it.”
Huberdeau and Dube, two guys who haven’t exactly filled the net this fall, were apparently paying attention to that pep talk.
Huberdeau has a reputation as a pass-first sort and an assists record to prove it, which is why everyone in the rink — most notably, Flyers defender Travis Sanheim — seemed to be anticipating a dish on his odd-man rush with milestone man Blake Coleman. Huberdeau, however, called his own number, blistering a shot between Carter Hart’s blocker and the far post.
“I kind of tried to keep it simple,” Huberdeau said after sniping his third of the season. “I don’t think I’ve ever shot on a two-on-one. Colesy was open, too, but it was nice to score that one.”
Calgary’s second strike was oh-so-similar, except that Dube — after glancing off Nikita Zadorov, his company on this crusade — picked the top shelf on Hart’s glove side for his first goal since the opener.
“It was a debate. I was up in the air on that one,” Dube admitted afterward. “I actually shaded over a little bit to him because I was going to pass it to him. But at that point, I turned my brain off and just shot the puck.
“(Zadorov) is giving it to me non-stop now. I love it, though. I told him I didn’t pass because it was him.”
Monday’s game-winner came courtesy of workhorse defenceman Rasmus Andersson, also the hero two nights earlier in a shootout in Florida.
Andersson leaned into a second-period slapper, a blast that not only glanced off Joel Farabee’s stick but actually snapped it in two. Hart was fooled by that deflection.
The Flyers showed some pluck as they tried to avoid a seventh straight loss, but Jacob Markstrom made a clutch save on what could have been the tying tally and then Coleman — he marked his 400th career game with a three-point pile-up — and Trevor Lewis sealed the result with a pair of empty-netters in the final two minutes.
For the hosts, it didn’t help that so many of their marquee names are currently out due to injury, a list that includes Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier and team scoring leader Travis Konecny. It’s a wonder that Gritty hasn’t been added to the active roster.
“It gives us confidence to win in a tight game like that,” Dube said. “It was a hard-checking game, so to lock it down there was important for us.”
AROUND THE BOARDS
The Flames, after improving to 9-7-2 with back-to-back victories, have now hit the midway point on this six-game roadie, their longest getaway of the season. Next up is Wednesday’s clash with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins (5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet One/Sportsnet 960 The Fan) … Crosby, by the way, has been on a tear. He was saluted Monday as the NHL’s first star of the week after piling up 11 points — four goals and seven helpers — in his past four outings. Gulp … Dube is among those guys who needs to provide secondary scoring for the Flames. So to be waiting deep into November for his second of the season, that’s not what anybody had in mind. The 24-year-old buzzsaw buried on opening night but then sweat through 16 straight without notching another. “It’s nice, but I don’t think goals are the important thing,” he stressed post-game. “Our group, when we were on that losing skid there, I think I was trying to take ownership and play better hockey and I think the last games have been better, and that’s when the puck starts going in the net. I just wasn’t playing good enough earlier. I wasn’t creating. I wasn’t helping out my linemates. I think the last little while has been a lot better. So it feels good to get rewarded for playing better.”
OFF THE GLASS
Coleman celebrates a birthday next week. He wanted to celebrate this latest milestone before then — and he did so in style with a goal and two helpers. “I heard a joke that I made it there before 31,” he said with a smile. “It’s not the traditional path to get to 400, but I’m extremely proud to get to play that many games in this league. It’s the best league in the world. To be rewarded with a good night and obviously most importantly, two wins on the road, is nice” … Flames right-winger Brett Ritchie was a no-go for Monday’s matchup with the Flyers. As bench boss Darryl Sutter explained after morning skate: “He got double-injured (in Florida), so he has two minor injuries that don’t allow him to skate today.” Ritchie was replaced on the fourth line by Kevin Rooney … Michael Stone joined the Flames in Philadelphia, a hint that he should be back in action soon. Stone has now missed eight in a row with a lower-body injury … Stone’s replacement, Dennis Gilbert, doesn’t mind chuckling knuckles. The hard-nosed call-up has dropped his gloves in three of his five appearances with the Flames, including Monday’s dance with Zack MacEwan.