ANAHEIM – As fertile as Johnny Gaudreau's mind, even he insists he never imagined he could create enough magic to reach the mark of the century.
"Never really," said Flames winger, who got his 98th spot in the 3×1 loss at the Honda Center.
"I just played my game, I just played hockey. I love playing the game, I love winning games with my teammates. And it kind of scared me. So let's see. One more game. Let's see if I play or not on Saturday. I want to play. I want to play in front of our fans against Edmonton. That would be a lot of fun on Saturday night. But we'll see.
In the middle of the unfathomable season of success in Calgary, the year of Gaudreau's career was one of the great reasons why his Flames ended the Western Conference at the end of the week.
With GM Brad Treliving finally finding the perfect wing – Elias Lindholm – to complete the dangerous pair that Gaudreau and Sean Monahan formed long ago, Flames' front line was undoubtedly one of the best in the league.
And now he sits two away from a brand that no one on fire has hit since a man almost as small as he, Theo Fleury, did it in 1992-93.
Gaudreau was born a few months later.
"Obviously, that would be a very cool milestone, but with what our team has accomplished this year only during the regular season, it has been incredible," said Gaudreau, who has 36 goals and 62 assistants to qualify in sixth place in the NHL.
"It's so much fun to be a part of. Looking forward to the playoffs. "
points to Gaudreau. pic.twitter.com/QIZa5dAmxP
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 4, 2019
After giving up several of his stars on the night off in Los Angeles and Anaheim this week, coach Bill Peters suggested throughout the week that he would cover his playoff roster on Saturday as the Oilers entered the city.
After Wednesday's game, he suggested he was having second thoughts and arguing with his assistants.
But you can bet that Gaudreau will not leave the formation, giving him a chance at the historic mark that neither Jarome Iginla has achieved.
"It would be cool, obviously (but) it's something I try not to focus too much on," said Gaudreau, the only skater to have a chance to play all 82 games this season.
"But I realize how close I am. That's not the reason I'm playing now. I feel good. You've known me long enough – I like being on ice. I want to be out there, I want to be playing the game instead of sitting in the press box watching my teammates play. I feel rested. I feel ready to go.
Peters said he was not sure how close Gaudreau was to the milestone after his first-period assist in the Derek Ryan goal made Gaudreau come closer.
"I think it's a good round number," Peters said. "I think everyone wants those numbers. If you have 19 goals, you want 20 and you have 48, you want 50.
"I do not think it's a high priority, but if that happens, it happens. If he gets 100 or 98, he's got a hell of a year.
Ryan said the same thing, amazed at how prolific Gaudreau was throughout the season – his most consistent campaign by far.
"I think it's huge for a guy like him," said Ryan, who played on Gaudreau's line for a handful of games this season.
"He obviously breeds very offensively, so it's exciting to see him potentially reach that milestone. Even if he does not reach, this does not take the time out of a season he had. It's just a number. It's been so much fun to watch.
"He's dynamic, he's fun to watch and he does crazy things that no one else thinks about. He's a big part of our offense and we hope he gets paid."