CALGARY - On the night Calgary honoured former great Joe Nieuwendyk, an inspired new generation of exciting young centres led the Flames to a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
Joe Colborne scored twice and Sean Monahan had the other in a furious third period comeback that saw Calgary overcome a 3-1 deficit with less than nine minutes to go to edge the New York Islanders 4-3 on Friday.
Colborne was not yet born when Nieuwendyk scored 51 goals as a rookie in 1987-88. Nonetheless, the touching ceremony made an impact on the Calgary-born 2008 first round pick acquired from Toronto at the start of the year.
"You forget how good he was," said Colborne, who's first career two-goal game gives him seven goals on the season. "You hear his points and stuff and you almost forget until they walk you through his career, and that was really cool for me.
"I might have felt it a little more than some of the other guys because he was one of my favourites growing up."
Colborne got the Flames comeback started at 11:29 when he knocked in a rebound off the end boards after Mark Giordano's point shot missed the net.
After Monahan went forehand to backhand on a pretty play in-close to tie it at 14:22, Colborne completed the comeback, deflecting in Giordano's slapshot at 15:41.
"Joe Nieuwendyk started the game and Joe Colborne decided that he would finish the game," said Flames coach Bob Hartley.
The win gives Calgary seven in its last eight games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"Obviously it's always fun after a win but after a game like that when you're down and you come back, it feels that much better," said Monahan, who leads the team with 19 goals. "After those couple goals by us, it felt like they stepped back a little bit. At that point when you have momentum like that, it almost feels like that next goal's coming and that's what happened."
Finnish rookie Markus Granlund, with his second goal in as many games, also scored for Calgary (25-31-7). The Flames, who had eight rookies in their line-up for the first time since Dec. 10, 1996, play in Vancouver on Saturday.
Kyle Okposo, Colin McDonald and Brock Nelson scored for New York (24-33-9). The Islanders are 1-1-1 with one game to go on a four-game road trip. The Islanders also play in Vancouver next but not until Monday.
Hartley said it was some words from veteran players at the second intermission that got his team going again.
"We had a good little talk in the locker room and the boys got back and they were on their toes again," he said. "When we work, when we drive the net, we're a pretty solid team. I don't care how many kids we have in the line-up. It's all about passion.
"We never quit. I'm pretty proud of my boys."
The third period unfolded just like it did Thursday night in Edmonton when the Islanders blew a two-goal lead in a 3-2 loss.
"We just stopped playing," said Okposo, who leads the team with 26 goals. "We gave up a goal and we stopped moving our feet and stopped going after them. We dominated the game for 50 minutes. There's no reason we should lose that game."
Tied 1-1, the Islanders took their first lead early in the second period on an uncharacteristic giveaway by Giordano, which led to a two-on-one goal finished off by Okposo.
New York took a 3-1 lead to the third period.
"We were playing well until 10 minutes left and they get one, they find a bounce off the end boards and score and we just pucker up," said Islanders defenceman Thomas Hickey.
It is the 12th time the Islanders have lost a game in which they held a two-goal lead.
"You look at it and we're in the playoffs if we don't do that. But you can't even make that excuse. The good teams find a way to win those and we're not doing that right now," said Hickey.
After winning his first NHL game on Wednesday, Ortio had 23 saves in his third NHL start to improve to 2-1-0.
Nilsson made 19 saves for New York and fell to 2-4-2.
The Flames are 9-4-0 in their last 13 games.
"Tonight was far from being the perfect game, let's be honest. It was an exciting game but I'm not happy," said Hartley. "But that third period, just like the fans, I'm thrilled. This building was electric in the third period. It was such a great atmosphere on the bench.
"To feel the fans, it seemed like the entire crowd was sitting on the bench with us."
Granlund opened the scoring at 2:01 with the second NHL goal of his career and second in as many games, this time shorthanded.
Notes: Several of Nieuwendyk's teammates from the Flames Stanley Cup winning team in 1989 were part of the ceremony for the Flames Forever a Flame recognition... Calgary D Tyler Wotherspoon played his first NHL game. He replaced Dennis Wideman (upper body), who was hurt in Wednesday's win over Ottawa. Wotherspoon is the fourth Flame to make his NHL debut in the past nine days... Between the two teams, there were 15 rookies dressed... Also out of the line-up for Calgary was Jiri Hudler (upper body)... Calgary had eight of its own draft picks in the line-up for the first time since Mar. 3, 2009.
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