CALGARY, Alberta (AP)Dillon Dube scored twice and Elias Lindholm got his 40th goal to lead the Calgary Flames to a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
Brett Ritchie, Nikita Zadorov and Johnny Gaudreau also scored to help Calgary – assured of first place in the Pacific Division -win for the ninth time in 11 games (9-1-1). Dan Vladar had 28 saves to improve to 12-5-2.
After scoring just four times in the first 45 games, Dube has 12 goals in his last 31 games, including six in his past six games.
”I just needed to be a lot better for this team going into the final stretch, I think,” Dube said. ”Elevate my game to get ready for playoffs.”
Dube’s been thriving of late on a line with Calle Jarnkrok and Blake Coleman.
”He’s playing with a lot of confidence and not just lately. If you look at it, it’s probably since the all-star break,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter. ”He’s his own worst critic and he listens, and I’m good with that.”
Quinn Hughes, Conor Garland and Elias Pettersson scored for Vancouver, which lost its third straight (0-2-1). Thatcher Demko finished with 25 saves and fell to 33-22-7.
”Disappointed,” said Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau. ”What are you going to do? I’ve been around long enough. It’s been a hard push, and we didn’t get to where we wanted to go.”
With three games remaining, the Canucks trail Nashville and Dallas in the Western Conference wild card race by six points. Vegas is two points ahead of Vancouver.
”There’s no quitting in that room,” Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. ”We’ve showed it so many times this year. Take it one game at a time and see where it takes us.”
After a scoreless and penalty-free first period, the Flames surged in front 2:44 into the second period with a power-play goal. Lindholm, who was clipped by a high-stick from Canucks forward William Lockwood to draw the penalty, whipped a perfect shot into the top corner after being set up by Johnny Gaudreau. Lindholm’s 40th goal came one game after linemate Matthew Tkachuk reached the same number.
It’s the first time Calgary has had multiple 40-goal scorers in a season since 1993-94 when Gary Roberts (41), Theo Fleury (40) and Robert Reichel (40) all accomplished the feat.
Lindholm had been stalled at 39 for the past three games. Robbed on three glorious chances on Thursday and thwarted on another dangerous chance in the first period on Saturday, Lindholm’s look skyward when the red goal light lit up showed his relief.
”Last game I had a lot of chances and he made a nice save in the first period. I felt at that point, I didn’t know if I was going to get another one this season,” Lindholm said.
His career-best had been 29 in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.
”Coming in, you always want to improve and, obviously, 30 has been a goal and a good number to reach,” Lindholm said. ”Obviously I got that, so just had to keep going.”
With the Saddledome still buzzing, the Flames scored again 16 seconds later, with Dube one-timing a centering pass from Jarnkrok.
After Hughes’ goal with 1:16 remaining in the period pulled the Canucks within one, Garland tied it 5:36 into the third when he swatted Tyler Myers’ cross-ice pass out of the air and inside the post.
It was only tied for 14 seconds with Calgary’s fourth line producing the go-ahead goal. Chris Tanev’s point shot deflected in off Ritchie’s skate while he was jostling in front with Ekman-Larsson.
It was the third goal of the season for Ritchie.
”Biggest goal tonight by far was Brett’s. Not even close,” Sutter said. ”He’s a guy that I wanted back on our team last summer. I thought there was a spot for him. He’s had a couple injuries this year that has slowed him up, but I think he’s a guy that can affect the game when he plays. He can be an important guy at playoff time.”
Calgary then put the game away, erupting for two goals 12 seconds apart. Dube darted in off the wing and beat Demko with a backhander into the top corner with 6:27 remaining for his 16th of the season and sixth in his last six games. That was followed by Zadorov’s slap shot that squeaked through Demko’s pads.
Pettersson scored for Vancouver with 2:28 left to make it 5-3, and Gaudreau added an empty-netter with 1:39 left to seal it.
NOTES: Calgary is the first NHL team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have four players reach 35 goals – Tkachuk (40), Lindholm (40), Gaudreau (38), Andrew Mangiapane (35) … The Flames called up Dustin Wolf from Stockton (AHL) to back up Vladar.
Canucks: Host Seattle on Tuesday night.
Flames: At Nashville on Tuesday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports