Gaudreau’s 3-point game leads Flames past Coyotes 4-2
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Johnny Gaudreau scored his 30th goal and added two assists to lead the Calgary Flames to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night.
Matthew Tkachuk also scored his 30th, and Elias Lindholm and Rasmus Andersson added goals for Calgary, which improved to 16-2-2 in its last 20 home games.
Lindholm, who often skates alongside Gaudreau and Tkachuk recorded his team-leading 32nd goal.
The line has been key to the Flames’ success this season, assistant coach Ryan Huska said.
“When we’ve needed a big goal, they’ve scored that goal. When there needs to be a big game, they’ve found a way to put together a big game for us,” Huska said. “The chemistry that those three guys have, it’s fun to watch, even for us behind the bench, to see some of the things that they’re able to do.”
After playing together all season, the Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk trio was broken up a week ago in an attempt to spread out the offence and it remained that way Friday.
Michael Carcone and Vladislav Kolyachonok scored their first NHL goals for Arizona, which lost its fourth straight.
“It was a special moment. You dream about that as a kid, and when it finally happens it’s pretty surreal,” said Carcone.
It was Carcone’s fourth NHL game after playing six seasons in the AHL.
“It’s been an adventure. It keeps you on your toes and keeps you wanting it,” said the 25-year-old left winger. “I’ve enjoyed the experience, and still enjoying the experience, and I’m going to continue to enjoy the experience.”
Jacob Markstrom made 16 stops in the win and improved to 30-12-7, becoming the first Flames goalie to win 30 games in a season since Miikka Kiprusoff won 35 games in 2011-12.
Karel Vejmelka had 29 saves for the Coyotes and fell to 10-25-1.
Tkachuk, Gaudreau, Lindholm (32), and Mangiapane (30) gives the Flames four 30-goal scorers for the first time since 1993-94, when Gary Roberts (41), Theoren Fleury (40), Robert Reichel (40), and Joe Nieuwendyk (36) accomplished the feat.
“Up and down our lineup, we’ve got a lot of smart players on our team this year. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of and to watch,” Gaudreau said.
After a lackluster opening 20 minutes, the Flames scored three goals in an eight-minute span to begin the second period.
Thirty-three seconds in, Tkachuk was left uncovered at the side of the net and one-timed a centering pass from Gaudreau.
Three minutes later, Arizona took its first penalty of the game and it took 15 seconds for the league’s third-worst penalty kill to surrender a goal.
A quick tick-tack-toe passing sequence that started with Gaudreau to Tkachuk was finished off neatly by Lindholm at 3:35. Tkachuk’s two-point night gives him a career-high 78 points.
Gaudreau made it 3-0 at 8:14, sprung on a two-man break by Nikita Zadorov’s pass. Gaudreau decided to not to pass across to Blake Coleman, instead whipping a shot into the top corner.
It was the 200th goal of Gaudreau’s career and he became the sixth member of the NHL’s 2011 draft class to reach the milestone. Gaudreau was selected in the fourth round by Calgary, 104th overall.
“You see an elite player this year, a guy that can change the game on his own,” Huska said, adding that the American is also making a bigger impact off the ice. “You also notice a little difference in him in regards to leadership around our room. So I think he’s maybe matured a little bit now. Maybe it’s married life, I don’t know what it is, but he’s been good for us.”
The Coyotes got one back with 12 seconds left in the period when Carcone stole the puck at the faceoff dot and fired a shot over Markstrom’s glove.
Calgary restored its three-goal lead on the power play 5:21 into the third when Andersson collected the puck in the neutral zone, carried the puck into the Coyotes end and scored on a deke to his backhand as he lost his balance and slid heavily into the end boards.
Arizona got back to within two when Kolyachonok one-timed Nick Schmaltz’s setup over Markstrom’s shoulder at 18:07.
Calgary finished 2 for 4 on the power play. Arizona went 0 for 3. The Flames, who have the NHL’s top-ranked penalty kill at home, are a perfect 24 for 24 over their last eight games and have allowed five power-play goals at home this season on 86 chances.
NOTES: Flames center Sean Monahan was a healthy scratch. The seven-time 20-goal scorer has gone 14 games without a point. … Arizona center Jay Beagle (lower body) returned to the lineup after missing 36 games. … Calgary improves to 10-3-2 against the Central Division.
Coyotes: At Winnipeg on Saturday night.
Flames: Host Edmonton on Saturday night.
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