CALGARY - The way Steve Staios was all over the ice when he scored the late goal in Saturday’s comeback win, it evoked images of a more famous NHL defenceman who wore No. 27.
Scott Niedermayer, anyone?
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Staios said when it was mentioned.
OK, that might be a stretch.
After all, Staios scored just his 56th NHL career goal when he lit the lamp in the Flames 5-4 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers.
Niedermayer probably won that many titles over his playing days, which will undoubtedly result in a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Still, Staios was a man possessed before scoring that tying goal with less than two minutes left on the clock that capped his team’s three-goal comeback.
Staios jumped into the rush, ended up with the puck a couple of times deep in Oilers territory, returned to his point position and then had to race to the faceoff dot for a loose puck before ripping a shot past Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk to equal the score.
“I can’t remember having a better feeling after a goal — I’ll tell you that,” Staios said. “I scored a playoff goal in our run (in 2006) in the West final, but that’s probably the biggest of my career.”
If the Flames can somehow make a miracle run to the playoffs this season, that goal may be among the biggest of the campaign.
No matter the end result, you can understand Staios having a sense of satisfaction.
The veteran defenceman, who is due to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, was a healthy scratch as often as he was in the lineup through the first 25 games of the season.
In early December, he suffered a shoulder injury that put him on the shelf for two months.
However, he’s become an integral part of the defence corps since returning.
“It’s rewarding to me because I know how difficult it was the first half of the year,” Staios said. “When you get challenged like that, it’s easy to go the other way, be down and not be a good teammate. To get through that has been big for me.
“I’ve been around a long time and seen guys go through challenges and not handled it the right way. It was definitely a challenge at the beginning of the year. I was waiting for my opportunity and did my best to stay positive and be a good teammate. Some days were tougher than others, but you try to stay positive. That helped me. I felt when I got the opportunity, I could contribute. There’s no better time playing than now.”
Plus, you know scoring his first game back in Edmonton — where he played for nearly eight seasons before being traded to Calgary at last year’s trade deadline — upped the importance just a bit.
“For sure, it did,” Staios said. “It was really just an incredible feeling. Going back to Edmonton, where I have some great memories and had a great time, to score a big goal in that building was big.
“But more than anything, we were down 4-1 and sitting on the bench going, ‘This isn’t happening. This can’t happen.’ To have it change in that short of a period of time was really exciting.
“I had no edge on my skate, and after I scored, I fell flat on my face. That’s probably good because I might have got a little carried away with the celebration.”