Rookie Sean Monahan admitted he wasn’t very good in the shootout while playing junior last season.
But now that he’s in the NHL, the Calgary Flames centre showed big improvement in that department by scoring the winner in the eighth round of a 5-4 shootout victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.
It was a goal that halted Calgary’s (7-11-3) six-game winless streak, and it marked the first shootout goal of Monahan’s young NHL career.
“My first year in junior, I was alright (in the shootout),” said Monahan, who had played with the Ottawa 67s.
“Last year, I wasn’t too good so I was kind of nervous there, but I felt good once I got off the ice.”
Monahan, who also had an assist, scored low on goalie Al Montoya’s blocker side.
“I went down the wide side and it’s a move I usually try to do in practice and fortunately enough it worked,” he said.
Juri Hudler had given Calgary a 4-3 lead with less than four minutes left in the game, but the Jets didn’t let up as centre Bryan Little tied it 4-4 with six seconds left.
With Montoya on the bench for the extra attacker in the final 30 seconds of regulation, the Jets (10-10-3) swarmed goalie Reto Berra and Little put a rebound in an open side of the net.
Montoya, who was playing so starter Ondrej Pavelec could have a break, stopped 24 shots in regulation and five in overtime. Berra was barraged by 47 shots, including three in overtime, for his second win of the season.
Michael Cammalleri scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season on the power play for Calgary and added an assist. T.J. Brodie also had a goal and assist and Lance Bouma scored shorthanded.
Michael Frolik, Olli Jokinen and Dustin Byfuglien also scored for Winnipeg. Byfuglien added an assist and Grant Clitsome and Blake Wheeler each had a pair of assists.
Winnipeg saw a four-game home winning streak halted, but are 4-2-1 in their last seven games.
“That was a pretty strange game in my books,” Jets coach Claude Noel said.
“I thought either team could have won it any time. We chased the game, not only from a goals standpoint, but I thought it was pretty wild in a lot of ways.
“I was wondering how it would go. I wasn’t settled all night. There was no point that I was comfortable.”
Calgary coach Bob Hartley echoed his bench counterpart.
“If that one was not exciting for them, it sure was for me,” Hartley said of the capacity crowd of 15,004 at the MTS Centre.
“We made it interesting, we made it tough on us, but at the end we found a way to win so big two points.”
After Bouma’s short-handed goal at 11:17 of the third period made it 3-2, Byfuglien tied the game with 7:50 left, scoring his fifth goal in as many games on the power play off a rebound.
But Calgary regained the lead when Hudler blasted a shot from the top of the face-off circle that cut by Montoya with 3:26 left in regulation.
“I think we gave up some point-blank opportunities, way too many quality chances,” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said.
Hartley was impressed with the way Berra reacted to Little’s late tying goal.
“He’s a very proud young man,” Hartley said. “And despite the fact that he gave the equalizing goal late in the game, he never lost his focus.
“What to say about his performance? I rarely saw a goalie give four goals and play that well.”
Calgary hosts Columbus on Wednesday and the Jets take on the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.