Raphael Diaz (Glenn James/Getty Images)
The Calgary Flames are getting help from even the unlikeliest of sources. Monday night, Raphael Diaz scored his second goal of the season on a brilliant effort that included faking out Stars’ defenders and goaltender Kari Lehtonen before wrapping around the net for a beautiful finish.
When Jaromir Jagr scored a dazzling wraparound goal Sunday night, it was fun to watch but not all that unexpected. He is, after all, one of the five top scorers in NHL history. Seeing Calgary Flames defenseman Raphael Diaz – he of one goal this season heading into Monday’s game – bury a skillful wraparound, however, is about an unexpected as it gets.
During the second period of a must-win game for the Flames, the puck got worked back to Diaz on the blueline. A massive hole opened in the Dallas defense, allowing Diaz to walk into the zone unimpeded. With a fake shot, Diaz shook Stars winger Curtis McKenzie. By holding his shot, he pulled Kari Lehtonen all the way out of the net. And with a quick curl, Diaz pivoted around the net and buried the go-ahead tally.
In 200 career games, Diaz has only eight goals, so there’s little doubt that this is the nicest goal he’s scored in his entire career. It could very well be the greatest goal he scores in his career.
Diaz hasn’t quite been a fixture on the Flames blueline this season, suiting up for only 55 of Calgary’s 77 games and being a healthy scratch in the other 22. He’s also playing the least ice time of his career, averaging little more than 12 minutes per game. But in 8:21 on ice last night, he sure made his mark.
His go-ahead tally was followed by a goal by Johnny Gaudreau less than four minutes later. Gaudreau’s marker stood as the game-winning goal as the Flames went on to down the Stars 5-3.