‘A dream come true’: Flames rookie Wolf earns win in hometown

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It was a happy homecoming for Dustin Wolf.

Finally in the blue paint, and in the spotlight, in the building where he first dreamed of a future as an NHL netminder, Wolf backstopped the Calgary Flames to Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime victory at SAP Center in San Jose.

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Many were describing this as a meaningless affair — after all, both the Flames and Sharks are playing out the string as non-playoff squads — but it certainly didn’t feel that way for the 22-year-old Wolf.

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While this was officially the first road victory of his big-league career, it was more of a home game.

His grandmother, aunt and uncle were among those in attendance. His parents were glued to the action from the Seattle area, and he could feel his late grandfather, Ron, “looking down on us.”

“It means the world to me,” Wolf beamed during a post-game interview on Sportsnet. “It’s a dream come true to be able to take part in a game here. And hopefully many more.”

It didn’t start all that dreamy Thursday for the masked man from nearby Morgan Hill, Calif.

Sharks forward William Eklund slipped behind the defence and capitalized on a slick deke to his backhand, and then Jacob MacDonald doubled the lead after the Flames botched a breakout attempt.

Rasmus Andersson started the comeback by scoring at the end of an extended second-period shift — one of those sequences where No. 4 seems to be absolutely everywhere in the offensive zone — and Nazem Kadri notched the equalizer on the power-play.

Andrei Kuzmenko drained the overtime winner during a chaotic scramble around the Sharks’ crease, yet another man-advantage marker for Calgary’s suddenly scorching special-teams unit.  

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Wolf finished with 20 saves. The best of ’em came with six ticks left in the middle frame, when he flashed his glove to rob Justin Bailey on a close-range re-direct.

The Flames’ goalie-of-the-future now owns a 4-7-1 record in a dozen starts this season at the top level.

“They care for each other, that’s the thing, so they know when there’s an important night for someone — and this was one, for sure, for Wolfie,” said Flames head coach Ryan Huska during his post-game scrum in San Jose. “I thought he was good tonight. He didn’t get a lot of work in the second or third period, which I was happy with. But I thought when he had to make some saves, he did a good job. He looked calm and composed tonight.”

And when he looked around, he could spot his loved ones in the stands.

“There was not too much red in the crowd, so it was pretty easy to find them,” Wolf told reporters in San Jose. “Coming home is always super enjoyable, but the goal on the trip is to get wins. And to get a win in front of my family, it’s pretty special.”

AROUND THE BOARDS

Filed under where-was-this-a-few-months-ago, the Flames’ power-play is on a 10-for-22 tear during a six-game spree. “And they’re crucial goals in these hockey games,” Kadri told media in San Jose … Kuzmenko is on a six-game streak of his own, with 11 points over a superb stretch … Just recalled from the minors and appearing in his first NHL game since December, rookie defenceman Ilya Solovyov made his presence known with three shots on net, three hits and a gutsy block on Mike Hoffman on the penalty-kill. After Huska mentioned the top priority for the 23-year-old Solovyov needs to be “a good first pass,” his most impressive play was arguably a bank-off-the-boards outlet that sprung Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrew Mangiapane on a two-on-one rush. Huberdeau clanked the post … Nikita Okhotiuk was shipped from San Jose to Calgary on trade-deadline day. With a secondary assist on Andersson’s marker, the Russian rearguard earned his first point in seven appearances so far in the Flaming C logo. On the not-so-positive side, the 23-year-old Okhotiuk was burned on a bad pinch on Eklund’s early strike.

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OFF THE GLASS

Oliver Kylington missed Tuesday’s showdown with the Sharks due an upper-body injury … The Flames, now with five games to go, continue this California road-trip with Thursday’s clash against the Kings in Los Angeles (8:30 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West/Sportsnet 960 The Fan) … Three members of Calgary’s latest draft class — first-round pick Sam Honzek, second-rounder Etienne Morin and fourth-rounder Jaden Lipinski — are all expected to join the AHL’s Wranglers this week after the end of their respective junior seasons … Blue-line prospect Hunter Brzustewicz remains busy with the Kitchener Rangers. The 19-year-old assist ace — acquired by the Flames in the Elias Lindholm trade and signed to an entry-level contract last month — and his Rangers teammates have advanced to the second round of the OHL playoffs.

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