Gaudreau’s big night pushes Flames past Devils 9-4
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Johnny Gaudreau busted out of a scoring slump in a big way.
Gaudreau had three goals and three assists, and the Calgary Flames scored six times in the third period on their way to a 9-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
Derek Ryan added two goals for Calgary. Sam Bennett, Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan also scored.
The Flames went ahead to stay on Gaudreau’s penalty shot 1:01 into the third. Gaudreau finished off his hat trick at 12:01, converting a setup from Monahan.
“Johnny’s a special player and he had a great statement night for himself,” Monahan said.
It was the NHL’s first six-point game since Dallas’ Jamie Benn on Nov. 14, 2013, at Calgary. Gaudreau became the first Flames player to accomplish the feat since Al MacInnis on March 20, 1994.
The stellar performance gave Gaudreau a career-high 33 goals and 90 points. He had just one goal in his previous 19 games.
“Sometimes you’re fighting the puck, sometimes you’re feeling good, you’re getting looks, you’re making plays up and down the ice,” Gaudreau said. “Our line was clicking tonight. We knew we had some jump from warmups and we came in the locker room and we knew we were going to have a good night.”
Blake Coleman, Travis Zajac, Kyle Palmieri and Kenny Agostino scored for New Jersey (25-36-9). The Devils are winless in their last seven (0-6-1).
“When you look at what happened in the third period, the first goal is fluky and then after that it was just mental mistakes that can’t happen,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “We have to be a much smarter group than that and more attention to detail.”
Peppered with 39 shots, Mackenzie Blackwood was in net for all nine goals and fell to 6-8-0.
“It’s a tough one, for sure,” he said. “It’s just unacceptable from myself and everyone else in the lineup. It starts with me and ends with me.”
Devils captain Andy Greene defended Blackwood’s outing, shifting the blame to the team in front of him.
“If you go and look back at all their goals, what could you do on any of them, literally,” he said. “All point-blank. All back-door. All breakaways. He fought really hard tonight and played really well and we were garbage in front of him.”
The game took a sharp turn early in the third.
Ryan scored 41 seconds into the period, tying it at 4, and then Gaudreau was hooked from behind on a breakaway by Damon Severson, leading to a penalty shot.
Gaudreau made no mistake, slowly winding his way in before ripping a shot past Blackwood.
“That’s a big goal. Important time,” Monahan said. “He put that in and we started to ride with it.”
Making it three goals in less than two minutes, Calgary went ahead 6-4 at 2:37 when Ryan was set up by Gaudreau on a 2-on-1. Patiently holding on to the puck, Gaudreau froze Blackwood before sending the puck across to Ryan, who was left with a wide-open net.
“You know that when he gets the puck on his stick, he’s looking for you, he’s a dynamic passer and he just filters it right through the guy’s legs for a backdoor tap-in,” Ryan said. “That’s pretty nice.”
Calgary (43-20-7) remains one point back of the Pacific Division and Western Conference-leading San Jose Sharks, who won 5-4 in Winnipeg.
David Rittich had 22 stops to improve to 24-7-5.
NOTES: Michael Stone (blood clot) rejoined the Flames after a conditioning stint in the American Hockey League. His last NHL game was Nov. 11.
Devils: At Edmonton on Wednesday night.
Flames: Host the New York Rangers on Friday night.