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Calgary Flames

Lindholm Finding Way As Final Flames Top-Liner

Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk left but top centre Elias Lindholm is still producing with the Calgary Flames.



Elias Lindholm’s performance for the Calgary Flames on Sunday night was one that keeps on giving. 

Not only did he score twice on the same shift to bust the game open the third period, he invoked a targeted high stick that led to the suspension of one of the San Jose Sharks’ best players. 

The Flames beat the Sharks 5-2 in arguably their most complete road game of the season thanks in large part to two goals in 35 seconds to start the third period. 

It was that same shift — on the opening faceoff — that Lindholm provoked a retaliatory stick to the face from Tomas Hertl. 

Lindholm lost the draw, stuck a couple of cross checks into Hertl’s shoulder, then recoiled as the Sharks centre whacked him in the face with his blade. Hertl received a two-minute minor, and the NHL followed up with a two-game suspension that will keep him out of the Calgary Flames rematch on Tuesday night. 

Lindholm had already made Hertl pay with a powerplay goal about 10 seconds in. Jonathan Huberdeau sent him the kind of long cross-ice seeing-eye pass Flames fans thought they would see nightly from the talented winger. Lindholm quickly rifled it past Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen. 

Just 19 seconds later, he had his second from the opposite side of the net. Yeah, he can shoot from anywhere This time Rasmus Andersson found him with a long pass from the point and it was in the net before Kahkonen knew it was launched. 

“Some good shifts there early on. It was good,” the modest, understated centre said of the momentum off the hop in the third. 

“Huby came out of the box and made a really nice pass to me. It was just to put it in there. Second one, right away, Ras made a nice play. 

“Probably not going to happen again, scoring two goals that quick. But I’ll take it.”

It doesn’t happen often. In fact, Lindholm was so quick, he landed in eighth spot in NHL history for the two quickest goals by the same player to start any period.

Not that the 28-year-old cares about any of that. 

He was talking about getting the big lead and the two points. And how happy he was for Milan Lucic to get his first goal of the season. 

Lindholm is the ultimate even-keel, work-your-tail-off pivot. The three-point game was his third with at least three this season. Fresh off a 40-goal campaign that saw him finish second in the Selke voting, he’s not far off his overall point pace. At his current rate, he’d finish with nearly 30 goals and 50 assists. He finished with 40 and 42 last year — the most impressive of his career. 

Of course, that came with obscene five-on-five numbers and a plus rating that seemed implausible. That’s not happening this year. 

But for a guy that lost two elite linemates in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk and has auditioned everyone from Huberdeau to Adam Ruzicka to Dillon Dube and even Lucic on his line, Lindholm has found a way to produce what the team needs from its top 200-foot centre. 

And that bodes well for a playoff spot for Christmas. 

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