He was recalled to the NHL, made his big-league debut in two games with the Calgary Flames, and then capped it all off with his first professional hat trick, powering visiting Omaha past the Toronto Marlies 4-1 on Thursday night. “It feels pretty good,” said Boyd of his first three-goal game. “It’s just nice to be able to contribute and help the team win.”
Defenceman Tim Ramholt also scored for Omaha, while goalie Curtis McElhinney turned in a stellar performance in front of an announced crowd of 6,100 at Air Canada Centre.
Blue-liner Richie Regehr chipped in with three assists for the Knights, who improved to 9-2-1.
“I’d never been to ACC before,” Boyd said, “I’d only seen it on TV. It’s great to play here, it’s huge. Hopefully, I’ll get an NHL hat trick here someday, too.”
Left winger Colin Murphy provided the lone marker for the Marlies as they dropped to 5-7-1.
With the annual Royal Agricultural Fair at Ricoh Coliseum until Sunday, the Marlies got a chance to play in the home of their NHL affiliate, the Toronto Maple Leafs, but couldn’t overcome Omaha’s special teams.
The Knights jumped out to a 3-0 lead on three power play goals in the first period – two by Boyd – and also added a shorthanded marker – also by Boyd – in the second.
“Whenever you give up three early power-play goals, that’s quite a hole to dig yourself out of,” said Marlies coach Greg Gilbert. “Especially those penalties in the offensive zone, they really can come back to haunt you.”
McElhinney was sharp throughout the game, stopping 32 of 33 shots for the victory. At the other end, Justin Pogge made 13 saves on 17 shots.
The Knights went 3-for-6 on the power play, while the Marlies were 0-for-7 with the man advantage.
“If a player finishes (a check) hard and gets a penalty, a physical penalty, that’s one thing,” Gilbert said. “But those stick penalties 200 feet from your own goal – we can’t do it.”
Omaha wasted no time in taking advantage of its power-play chances. As the first two Marlies went to the penalty box, the Knights scored twice in less than a minute.
Centre Andrei Tartarukhin got things rolling at 6:35 of the first period with a no-look pass to Boyd standing at the goalmouth, and the shifty pivot roofed the puck over Pogge, who had to lunge across the crease and had no chance to make the save.
Just 59 seconds later, at 7:34 and still on the power play, defenceman Brad Ference slid the puck along the blue-line to Ramholt and the Swiss defender’s slapshot beat a screened Pogge.
Boyd’s second goal of the game, again on the power play, put Omaha up 3-0 at 13:15 of the first. Regehr snuck a pass through the Marlies coverage to the right side of the crease, where Boyd was all alone and easily deposited the puck into the gaping net.
“I got some great passes tonight,” Boyd said. “They deserve most of the credit for the hat trick. “On the first goal, (Tartarukhin) found me with a perfect pass through the legs, Moss put it right on my tape for the second one, and Richie (Regehr) sprung me for a breakaway on the third.”
The Marlies got on the scoreboard at 8:38 when Brett Engelhardt’s centring pass into the slot deflected off a hard-charging Murphy and past McElhinney. But Boyd restored Omaha’s three-goal bulge by completing his hat trick with a
shorthanded breakaway marker at 15:18.
Regehr’s third assist of the game sent Boyd in all alone, and he faked a backhand before pulling the puck to his forehand and zipping it past Pogge’s blocker, giving Omaha a 4-1 edge heading into the final frame.
Notes: The game was played at Air Canada Centre, the NHL home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, due to the annual Royal Agricultural Fair moving into the Ricoh Coliseum … The Marlies dressed just five defencemen as Brad Brown, Dominic D’Amour and Tyson Marsh all sat out nursing injuries. Brown (back) and D’Amour (ankle) are day-to-day, according to Marlies PR staff, while Marsh could be out a week or longer.