Gaudreau has goal, assist to lead Flames past Rangers 4-3
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — The New York Rangers gave up two early goals on breakaways — one when they had a 5-on-3 power play.
As far as coach David Quinn was concerned, that about summed up their latest shaky defensive performance.
Johnny Gaudreau opened the scoring and then set up the winning goal midway through the second period as the Calgary Flames snapped a five-game losing streak at home with a 4-3 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night.
“We’ve been giving teams too much, too easy,” New York center Mika Zibanejad said. “We make it so hard on ourselves to really give ourselves a chance to win. It’s just not good enough.”
Less than three minutes after New York tied it 3-all, Sean Monahan gave the Flames their third lead at 8:22 of the second when he neatly finished off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence.
Gaudreau fed a pass back to Noah Hanifin at the blue line and he immediately zipped a pass in front to Monahan, who used his quick hands to score his 14th of the season.
“We were treating this like a must-win,” Monahan said. “We lost our last five here on home ice. We wanted to get going.”
Mikael Backlund and Derek Ryan also scored for Calgary (21-17-5). Cam Talbot made 24 saves to beat his former team.
Jacob Trouba, Filip Chytil and rookie Kaapo Kaako scored for New York (19-17-4). Rangers defenseman Adam Fox, a Flames draft pick, had three assists.
New York fell to 1-2-0 on a four-game road trip that wraps up Saturday night in Vancouver.
“We’ve just got to play better defense. We’re giving up too many goals. You can’t score five goals every game, expect to win like that,” veteran defenseman Marc Staal said.
After getting off to shaky starts, Talbot and Henrik Lundqvist were perfect over the final half of the game. Talbot began his NHL career as Lundqvist’s backup in New York for two seasons.
Beaten on two of the first three shots he faced, Talbot settled in and improved to 4-7-0.
“Not the best start for myself after we got up a couple, but I thought I battled well from there and made some big saves when I needed to,” Talbot said. “Give the guys credit — it could have been pretty deflating after going up 2-0, then giving them both right back. But our guys battled hard. We believed in this room.”
Lundqvist, who gave up three goals on his first nine shots, ended up turning aside 25. His record fell to 9-9-3.
Down 3-2 after the first period, the Rangers tied it at 5:46 of the second on Kakko’s long-range shot through a maze of bodies in front. It appeared Talbot didn’t see the puck.
Calgary went up 3-2 at 13:18 of the first when Ryan got the puck high in the slot, spun and whipped a shot past Lundqvist.
Coming off consecutive home games in which the Flames fell behind 3-0 in the first period, it was Calgary that got the jump on this night with Gaudreau first to a loose puck in the neutral zone and scoring on a breakaway at 6:48.
“I was just coming down fast, had a lot of speed, I was going to shoot, last second I decided to go to my backhand and put it through the five-hole,” Gaudreau said. “We haven’t had great starts the past few games here in the Saddledome, so it was nice to get off to an early lead.”
Monahan was impressed by the speed his longtime linemate showed.
“Johnny came out of a cannon there. He was flying. He was feeling it tonight,” said Monahan, who has four goals in his last six games and is up to 14 this season.
New York has allowed 23 goals in its last five games, losing three of them.
“I don’t know how many scoring chances we gave up, but it’s the wrong guy to give a breakaway early on there,” Lundqvist said. “He’s pretty good.”
Three minutes later, the Flames scored a rare short-handed goal while down two men. Backlund intercepted Tony DeAngelo’s cross-ice pass and took off on another breakaway, scoring on a similar move.
Backlund has three goals in his last six games after ending an 18-game drought.
But with time left still on the two-man advantage, the Rangers went right back to work and answered 26 seconds later with Trouba scoring on New York’s first shot of the game.
Just 25 seconds later, on the ensuing one-man advantage, New York tied it with Chytil knocking in Kakko’s rebound.
NOTES: Calgary’s late-afternoon trade of Michael Frolik to Buffalo forced interim coach Geoff Ward to shuffle his lines. He returned Backlund to right wing on a line with Gaudreau and Monahan, and inserted center Mark Jankowski. ... New York left wing Chris Kreider played in his 500th NHL game. ... Trouba’s goal was his 200th career point.
Rangers: Play at Vancouver on Saturday night.
Flames: Fly out Saturday for two road games, beginning Sunday in Minnesota.