CALGARY -- On his first shift, Mikael Backlund raised the roof.
Unfortunately for the Calgary Flames rookie centre, his team couldn’t stay at that intensity level for an entire 60 minutes against the league’s best.
Just two minutes into a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the slick Swede stole the puck from countryman Mikael Samuelsson, went in alone on Roberto Luongo and sent a backhander to the top corner, getting an eruption from the crowd.
A minute or so later, the Flames had a two-goal edge thanks to a Matt Stajan goal, but they home side couldn’t hold it.
The league’s best powerplay connected on two chances and erased a second-period deficit.
Backlund can’t feel good about his goal now, but he will when the season ends and his personal highlight reel includes the pretty play.
“It’s one of them. I had some pretty ones in Kelowna,” Backlund said. “At this level, it’s my best.
“I worked hard to get it back and then I just tried to get it high because that’s what I was told about Luongo.”
With Backlund and Stajan scoring early, the Saddledome had an electric vibe.
If this is a first-round playoff preview, Calgary fans are in for great entertainment, although they might not like the eventual outcome.
“It was a big game,” Backlund said. “Those are the most fun to play, so of course I had lots of energy.
“To play more, you have to play well so I wanted to show the coaches I want to play more. That’s how you have to do it.”
The Canucks receiver a fortunate carom for the winning goal on the powerplay. A Christian Ehrhoff point shot deflected off Ryan Kesler’s skate right to Daniel Sedin at the side of the net.
The powerplay the Canucks were on drew some groans too.
Rene Bourque jammed at Keith Ballard’s stick an then kept going through his feet to take him down at centre ice. Ballard embellished a little but it worked and he drew the call.
“We talked about before the game we had to be disciplined,” said Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester.
“One of the penalties was a neutral zone hook. Those are things you want to stay away from. But we have to do a better job killing it.”