Elias Lindholm and Adam Ruzicka each had a goal and an assist on Saturday night as the Calgary Flames ended a seven-game winless streak with a 3-2 NHL win over the Winnipeg Jets.
Trevor Lewis also scored for Calgary (6-6-2), while defenseman Rasmus Andersson contributed with two assists.
Neal Pionk and Pierre-Luc Dubois answered for Winnipeg (8-4-1), who went into the night with a 6-0-1 tear and possession of the league’s third-longest active scoring streak.
Calgary native Josh Morrissey had two assists to continue his red-hot start. The Jets’ top scorer already has 13 assists, which is halfway to his career high of 26 sets in 2019-20.
Jacob Markstrom got the start for the Flames and made 21 stops to improve to 5-3-2. His stops included a highlight roll attempt in the first when he slid over the crease, stacked his pads and reached out his catch hand to rob Mark Scheifele.
Connor Hellebuyck finished the race with 32 stops at the other end. His record falls to 7-3-1.
The key sequence of the game happened late in the second half with the 2-2 draw.
Ten seconds after a holding penalty on Flames defender Mackenzie Weegar, Mikael Backlund broke in with a two-for-one and sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Lewis, who went from forehand to backhand as he sliced over the top of the crease, to give Calgary its third track of the night.
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With the Jets still 1:50 on the power play, Backlund brought the puck back over the wing, but this time his attempted dump-in hit the ref instead, and when Calgary caught a centerline switch, Winnipeg switched back to top ice on what was a two- Man breakaway only to be sidelined.
But after the whistle, Andersson Dubois collided with Markstrom, leading to a scuffle behind the Flames’ net, resulting in a trip penalty for Markstrom and a two-man advantage for the visitors for 79 seconds.
But Calgary’s maligned penalty came through to retain the lead and ultimately the win. After giving up power play goals in seven straight games, the Flames have produced perfect 8-on-8s in the last two games, including 3-on-3s against the Jets.
Trailing 2-1 after the first half, Winnipeg equalized at 4-23, taking advantage of a defensive cover error by the Flames that left Dubois wide open for a tap-in after being properly set up by Morrissey was.
Calgary had taken their second lead at 17:22 from the first to a handsome lineup from Lindholm, who spotted Ruzicka hurtling towards the net and set him up with a cross-ice pass that the Slovakian buried for his first of the season .
Ruzicka had a healthy scratch in 10 of his first 11 games and played his third straight game, replacing the injured Jonathan Huberdeau (upper body) on the left side of the Flames No. 1 with Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli.
Ruzicka was also a central figure in Calgary’s opening goal at 3:23 when he slung a backhand from the corner into the front goal of the net, which bounced off Lindholm’s racquet up front and squeaked between Hellebuyck’s pads.
Pionk equalized 1-1 after 14:46 of the first game when his point shot found Flame defender Connor Mackey.
FIRST GOAL WINS
Flames opened the scoring in their sixth straight game, but the team’s slippage in seven games without a win is proof that this wasn’t the recipe for success it was a year ago. Calgary went into the night with a .250 win ratio (2-4-2), tying them with the Ottawa Senators for the last time in the NHL.
After missing five games with an upper-body injury, Calgary welcomed back veteran defenseman Chris Tanev. However, he did not return to his regular D pairing, instead teaming up with Mackey, who returned after suffering a healthy scratch in the last two games. Nick DeSimone and Dennis Gilbert, who started the season in the Minors but have been the Flames’ third pairing in the last two games, were both scratches.
Jets: Are back in action Sunday night when they do their short weekend road trip in Seattle against the Kraken.
Flames: Calgary hosts the Los Angeles Kings on Monday before hitting the road again for a six-game trip.
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