Tabby Earns His Stripes
By Tom Keyser - Calgary Herald
Oct 18, 1997
For the first few minutes Friday night, things were so sleepy around the Calgary Flames goal, Rick Tabaracci could've knit a sweater. Played a round of solitaire. Caught up on his reading.
Then, like bullets from a repeating rifle, pucks started whistling past his ear. One. Two. Three.
"Enough, already," groaned Flames coach Brian Sutter. "Get the hook."
Starting with two goals -- nine seconds apart -- from Colorado defenceman Jon Klemm, then following up with a third from Valeri Kamensky, the visiting Avalanche rolled up a 3-0 lead on their first three shots.
And this after coming nowhere near the net during the first half of the period -- and beyond.
All in all, not a stellar mark on the Tabaracci resume.
Trouble was, the coach couldn't stomach the work of his replacement -- Dwayne Roloson, who allowed a fourth unanswered goal -- either.
So Sutter sent Tabby back in to start the second period. It was a gift from above, allowing Tabaracci to save face,and the pleasure of helping the amazing Young Guns to their first victory of the season, 6-5 in overtime.
Ever the stone-face, Sutter shrugged when asked why.
"I wasn't happy with that fourth goal, either.
"Nobody else deserved to be back in. (Tabaracci)got us into it (i.e. the glue), and he ended up making the save that gave us a chance to win the game."
That Tabaracci did, snuffing an OT breakaway chance by Colorado's Claude Lemieux. It was only the goaltender's 19th save of the night, but huge, needless to say.
Minutes later, Michael Nylander's goal proved how important Tabaracci's stonewalling efforts against Lemieux had been.
"He was coming with a lot of speed. He has a great wrist shot. You certainly don't want to be the guy who lets in the goal that can blow the game for you," Tabaracci agreed,
though his first two would have qualified had things turned out differently.
For his part, Tabaracci was grateful for the second chance.
"I figured I couldn't be any worse," he winked.
"Actually, I was PO'd. I have to be better than that."
"He (Sutter) made the change, and it turned out to be a great coaching move. It was a great idea, a class act," said the goalie, who didn't ask his coach for the second chance.
"We've been so close on so many occasions, I like to think it was a factor in his decision," he continued.
"I really think what you saw tonight, you're going to see more of this season. I don't ever want to let these guys down."
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