Reunited top trio ignites Flames win over Desert Dogs
The breakup didn’t last long but the second honeymoon was worth every penny for the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
A reunited top line led to an important win at the Saddledome. Thanks to goals from all three members of the top trio, the Flames earned a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. They’ll go again in Saturday night’s rivalry game against the Edmonton Oilers.
After a shaky first period, the Three Amigos were all tapped at the same time. And it took a little more than eight minutes for Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm to score in a critical second frame to get the hosts on track.
Rasmus Andersson scored another sensational goal to give the Calgary Flames some breathing room in the third. But the top line was on fire as the Flames again avoided a second consecutive loss in the last nine-plus weeks.
“It was nice to see once that line got put back together again, they were able to generate and give us some good time in the offensive zone,” said associate coach Ryan Huska. “It’s really good. When we’ve needed a big goal, they’ve scored that goal. When there needs to be a big game, they’ve found a way to put together a big game for us.
“The chemistry those three guys have, it’s fun to watch even for us behind the bench to see some of the things they’re able to do.”
The goals themselves were works of art. Tkachuk finished a give-and-go with Gaudreau. Lindholm took a perfect feed from Tkachuk, and Gaudreau looked off Blake Coleman on a two-on-none and roofed his shot.
It was the 30th goal this season for both Gaudreau and Tkachuk, and both are going to bet paid as free agents this summer. Gaudreau is on the brink of unrestricted free agency and Tkachuk will be a restricted free agent. The Calgary Flames now have four 30-goal scorers on a team for the first time since 1993.
It was also Gaudreau’s 200th NHL goal in the regular season.
“I was just excited I scored. Just another goal for me,” Gaudreau shrugged.
Tkachuk was just as unimpressed about their benchmarks.
“It is nice, but I think both of us have done it before,” Tkachuk said. “You just want to keep getting better each year. So hopefully we just continue to play better and help the team offensively, defensively and all around.”
The trio found out about the reunion right before the period started. Some tinkering the past couple of games featured a new look. Tkachuk playing alongside Dillon Dube and Mikael Backlund, and Lindholm and Gaudreau joined by NHL trade pickup Tyler Toffoli.
The spark ignited by Tkachuk’s goal quickly grew into a wildfire of offence. Just what the doctor ordered ahead of the final regular-season edition of the Battle of Alberta.
“They’ll be well rested and we’re going to expect a tough game from them,” Tkachuk said of Connor McDavid and Co. “We’re ready for it. “