He is, fittingly, No. 11 on this legendary list.
Calgary Flames captain Mikael Backlund assisted on Monday’s overtime snipe in Seattle, becoming the 11th player in franchise history to reach the 500-point plateau.
When the Flames return from this road trip, Backlund will have a keepsake puck in his suitcase. Before they wrap their travels, he might want to treat Rasmus Andersson to dinner.
Andersson ended the overtime session with a determined effort, accepting a pass from Backlund in the neutral zone and eventually lugging the puck around the enemy net. While the workhorse defenceman was stuffed on his wraparound attempt, the puck popped right back to him and he made the most of that second chance, finishing off a dramatic comeback against the homestanding Kraken.
“A huge win for us. A great comeback,” Backlund told Sportsnet 960 The Fan after Monday’s 4-3 overtime triumph at Climate Pledge Arena. “And it feels really special to get that 500th point. I told Rasmus for long enough to find me or score when I pass to him. So it was about time.”
While the 35-year-old Backlund, like any good leader, preferred to talk about the importance of another momentum-building, confidence-boosting victory, his assist in overtime continued to cement his status as one of Calgary’s all-time greats.
He joins Jarome Iginla, Theo Fleury, Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk, Johnny Gaudreau, Gary Suter, Kent Nilsson, Guy Chouinard, Mark Giordano and Gary Roberts in the Flames’ 500 Club.
You might not immediately think of No. 11 when asked about the most electrifying offensive talents in franchise lore, but the responsible centre has been a steady contributor through his 14 seasons as a staple at the Saddledome. He needed 926 games to reach this latest round number.
“It feels good that it was a pass on a winning goal,” Backlund told reporters in Seattle. “A big win for us, and yeah, it’s a big milestone. When I came into the league, my first few years, I never maybe thought or expected myself to get to 500 points, let alone stay in the league this long.
“I worked hard to get here today, so I’m proud and excited about it.”
Backlund wasn’t the only dude to hit a significant benchmark during Monday’s divisional dust-up with the Kraken.
With barely four minutes remaining in regulation and his team trailing by one, a crease-crashing Andrew Mangiapane deposited a loose puck for his 100th career goal with the Flames. Chris Tanev’s shot pinballed off Mangiapane’s shin-pads before he finished the job as he was tripped to the ice.
“Great for him, great for Mikael,” praised head coach Ryan Huska. “Those are two pretty good milestone nights for important players on our team.”
The Flames are now 5-1-2 over their past eight games.
Of that handful of victories, they trailed in four of ’em.
Among the positives Monday in Seattle, Andersson piled up three points, Dan Vladar delivered 28 saves and Jonathan Huberdeau had another strong outing, with a man-advantage marker, a secondary assist on the winner and a big hit on Brandon Tanev.
As Calgary’s new captain, this string of recent comebacks shines favourably on Backlund. Whatever is being said behind closed doors, including in a recent meeting aimed at putting a lid on trade requests and other potential distractions, it seems to be working.
“To win in OT was a great start to this road trip for us,” Backlund told Sportsnet 960 The Fan after his squad improved to 7-8-3. “I think if you win a few comeback games, you gain that confidence knowing that, no matter what, you can find ways to win games or come back and tie games. And since that six-game losing streak, we’ve done that.”
Next up for the Flames is Wednesday’s two-step with the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena (7 p.m. MT, Sportsnet 360/Sportsnet 960 The Fan).
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Wes Gilbertson and Danny Austin have been covering the Flames for years and know what makes the team tick. Have questions? They have the answers – or the contacts to track them down. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org