Johnny Gaudreau scored twice to lead the host Calgary Flames to a crucial 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday that gives more life to their playoff hopes.
Milan Lucic, Brett Ritchie and Rasmus Andersson also scored for the Flames, who rode Jacob Markstrom’s 30-save performance to a second consecutive win over the Canadiens in as many nights.
Markstrom has a 6-1-0 record this season against Montreal, in which he’s stopped 170 of 179 shots.
With nine games remaining, the Flames (21-23-3, 45 points), are four points behind the Canadiens (20-17-9, 49 points) for fourth place in the North Division. The top four teams advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli replied for the Canadiens, who are in a 3-8-0 slide. Cayden Primeau, in his first NHL start of the season, stopped 29 shots.
The Flames and Canadiens meet for the final time Monday in Calgary. The Flames have won six of eight clashes.
After Suzuki opened the scoring with a rebound tally midway through the opening frame, the Flames responded with a trio of goals. First, Gaudreau evened the score when he banked a shot off the far post and into the net with 31 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Lucic put the hosts ahead a couple of minutes into the second period on a faceoff play created by Derek Ryan winning the draw, and Gaudreau followed that with his second of the game — 17th of the season — at the 5:31 mark of the middle frame. Andrew Mangiapane stole the puck from a defenseman and fed Gaudreau at the far post, which gives him four goals and five assists in the last seven games.
Birthday boy Toffoli notched a power-play goal with 1:57 remaining in the second period to make it a one-goal game, but Ritchie restored Calgary’s two-goal edge five minutes into the third period when he converted Ryan’s cross-ice pass on an odd-man rush for his third goal of the season.
Andersson iced the game with an empty-net goal.
The win came at a price for Calgary as defenseman Noah Hanifin left the game early minutes after an awkward collision and didn’t return, which left the Flames with only five blueliners for nearly the whole game.
Prior to the game, the Canadiens announced that No. 1 goalie Carey Price, out due to a concussion suffered on Monday, has returned home for evaluation and treatment.
–Field Level Media