CALGARY — Thomas Hickey is the lone native of this city on the Islanders, and aside from the usual questions about tickets and postgame passes (he left quite a few of both for friends and family Thursday night), he fielded one about finally becoming a regular NHLer after 212 AHL games while he was stuck in the Kings’ farm system.
“It’s nice to be able to have the people who helped you get to this point be able to see you play,” Hickey said. “You’re always trying to get better, prove you belong and want to keep growing as a player. But to be able to be back here again as a regular NHL player on a real good team, it’s a good feeling coming back home.”
Hickey again took a spot with Travis Hamonic on Thursday night as Jack Capuano kept the same skaters from Tuesday night’s 4-1 win over the Wild in St. Paul. That meant Ryan Pulock still is waiting to make his NHL debut.
Capuano doesn’t like to change his lineup after a win, and the fact that his team had allowed one goal in the previous two games with those six defensemen and Jaroslav Halak in net made it an even tougher choice.
Flames coach Bob Hartley gave Joni Ortio a second consecutive start in goal despite the fact that the 24-year-old goaltender was coming off a 2-1 loss in Los Angeles. “Maybe he can be our Hamburglar,” Hartley said, referring to Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond’s nickname from last season’s big Ottawa run. “He can be our Grimace.”
Capuano entered the game with 197 career wins, 72nd on the all-time NHL coaches list. As MSG Network noted the totals after Tuesday’s win, Halak has 197 wins in goal and John Tavares has 197 career goals.