Gaudreau has hat trick in Flames’ 4-1 win over Lightning
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Johnny Gaudreau had his sixth career hat trick to extend his point streak to seven games and the Calgary Flames beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 Thursday night.
Mikael Backlund also scored for Calgary, which is 15-2-1 in its last 18 games. The Flames are 13-1-1 in their last 15 games at home. Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 shots to improve to 27-11-6 on the season.
“Those are momentum goals, all of them,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said of Gaudreau’s first hat trick since March 12, 2019. “That’s what the top guys do in this league.”
Alex Killorn scored for Tampa Bay, which has lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season. Andrei Vasilevskiy had 28 saves.
“Teams go through tough stretches all the time. We’re going through a little bit of a bump right now,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “We’ll correct it. But it’s process over outcome at this point. Today was a start. That’s a good team over there and they capitalized on their chances. Sometimes you’ve got to give the other team credit, too.”
With the goaltenders taking turns making great save after great save, the game was a 1-1 approaching the final minute of the second period when the Flames scored twice to open a 3-1 lead.
With 1 minute to play, and reminiscent of his goal in the first period, Gaudreau corralled a loose puck to the side of the net and from below the goal line, banked a shot off the back of Vasilevskiy and in.
Calgary surged ahead 3-1 with 8 seconds left. Erik Gudbranson got the puck along the sideboards and snapped a hard low pass into the slot that Backlund neatly steered in. Gudbranson’s assist gave the 30-year-old defenseman a career-high 14 points.
Gaudreau then capped off his evening with 6:16 remaining in the third, taking a pass from Elias Lindholm and one-timing a shot past Vasilevskiy as fans threw hats raining onto the ice and broke into chants of “Johnny, Johnny.”
“It’s awesome. It’s a really cool feeling,” Gaudreau said. “It’s even cooler feeling when you’ve got all the fans chanting your name. It’s pretty special. I don’t take those for granted, it was a pretty cool moment.”
The 28-year-old left wing, in the final year of his contract, leads the team with 26 goals and 77 points. That puts him on a pace for 111 points, which would be a career-high. His best season was 99 points in 2018-19.
Thirteen of those points (six goals, seven assists) have come in these last seven games, a torrid stretch that has him up to fourth in league scoring behind Jonathan Huberdeau (82 points), Connor McDavid (81) and Leon Draisaitl (79).
The only puck to elude Markstrom was Killorn’s deflection with 4:20 left in the second that briefly tied it 1-1.
Other than that, Markstrom was outstanding.
In the first period, when Ross Colton got the puck alone in front after a Blake Coleman turnover, he was thwarted on his quick move from backhand to forehand as Markstrom jabbed out his pad.
In the second, Markstrom threw out his glove and stabbed a shot from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
“It’s always fun to play the teams that in the top and Tampa is a team that has been at the top for a long time, but you know, it still is two points. Nothing more, nothing less,” said Markstrom.
The only goal of the opening 40 minutes came on a power play 7:35 into the first period when Gaudreau collected a rebound of Tyler Toffoli’s shot and banked it off Vasilevskiy and in. Toffoli’s assist gave him 12 points in 12 games.
“On that first power-play goal, (Vasilevskiy) was out of his net, he wasn’t on the post and I tried to bank it off his butt,” Gaudreau said. “The second one was just pure luck, I just threw it right back in front of the net and it went off his hip or something.”
NOTES: Linesman Jason Marquis had to be helped off the ice and didn’t return after he was struck in the helmet by a shoot-in attempt by Calgary’s Trevor Lesis at 6:16 of the second. ... Tampa Bay fell to 9-2-1 against the Pacific. The Lightning are 22-1-4 when they score first, but just 15-13-2 when they allow the first goal. ... The Flames’ last win at home against the Lightning was been Jan. 5, 2016.
Lightning: At Edmonton on Saturday night.
Flames: Host Detroit on Saturday night.