It wasn’t exactly the way he imagined it, but for Connor Mackey, scoring his first NHL goal was still a great feeling.
“It’s pretty special,” said the 24-year-old Calgary Flames defenceman. “You obviously envision a full house and scoring a nice goal and the crowd’s going crazy, but I’ll take what I can get. It’s a great confidence booster going into the summer.”
Mackey rounded out the scoring 3:29 into the third period of Calgary’s last game of the season Wednesday, a 6-2 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks.
He joined a rush and put his stick on the ice just in time to get a tap-in past Canucks goalie Braden Holtby.
“I wasn’t even looking for one. I was just trying to play some good [defence], play solid defensively and be reliable out there,” Mackey said. “It was just right on my tape, rebound, right there.”
Matthew Tkachuk had two goals for the Flames (26-27-3), while Brett Ritchie scored and collected a pair of assists. Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane also scored.
Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller had goals for the Canucks (23-29-4), and Brock Boeser notched a pair of assists.
Holtby stopped 22-of-28 shots for Vancouver and Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom had 19 saves.
The Flames won seven of 10 games against the Canucks this season.
Mangiapane finished the year on a five-game scoring streak and tied a career-high 32 points (18 goals, 14 assists) over the pandemic-condensed 56-game season.
The left-winger said it’s disappointing to finish the year out of the playoffs, but he’s hoping the Flames can build on the success they saw through the stretch.
“I’m glad that our team came out these last couple games and played well, just kind of building on for next year,” Mangiapane said. “Just start playing the right way now so we’re not behind the 8-ball next year.”
It wasn’t the season end Flames coach Darryl Sutter envisioned when he was hired in March to replace Geoff Ward.
“I’m just disappointed,” Sutter said. “I’m disappointed for the players. I say this all the time when it’s the last game, doesn’t matter if it’s a playoff game or last game of the season, I’m always disappointed for the players that they don’t get to keep playing.”
For Canucks coach Travis Green, the end of the season came with mixed emotions. His team finished the year with 19 games in 32 nights after a COVID-19 outbreak swept through the club, forcing the NHL to postpone a number of games.
“It’s been a grind of a year. Our team’s gone through a lot,” Green said. “Proud of the group, the way they’ve handled themselves and stuck together and stuck with it.”
Wednesday’s game was the NHL’s regular-season finale, played four days after the playoffs started in the U.S.
It was also the fourth matchup in a row between Calgary and Vancouver, who were both eliminated from playoff contention in the all-Canadian North Division earlier this month.
The Flames ended up four points behind the Montreal Canadiens in the race for the final playoff spot. The Canucks finished last in the seven-team North, one point behind the Ottawa Senators.
The game finished hours before Wednesday night’s North Division playoff opener between the Edmonton Oilers and visiting Winnipeg Jets.