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Hot Start, Flashy Finish Helps Flames Sink Islanders 4-1

The Calgary Flames beat the New York Islanders 4-1 on Friday night at the Saddledome thanks to a three-goal first period and a clutch goal from Nazem Kadri in the third.



Three goals on their first five shots. That’s the kind of start the Calgary Flames wanted. 

But way they closed it out — including a nail-in-the-coffin snipe from all-star centre Nazem Kadri — that’s the kind of finish the Calgary Flames needed. 

Bouncing back from a disappointing loss to the Jets in Winnipeg earlier this week, the Flames took advantage of what looked like a tired New York Islanders team early. The Isles lost to the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night and had the daunting task of facing an angry Flames roster

They’re tired of falling short in too many one-goal games

One way to avoid that sting is to have stronger third periods. Another is to amass and keep a multi-goal lead until the final buzzer.

That’s the route the Flames went in Friday’s 4-1 win over the Islanders, scoring three times in the first period and again before the halfway mark in the third against a team known for its tight checking and solid goaltending. 

When they played the Isles earlier in the season they had the same 3-1 lead entering the final 20 minutes and ultimately lost the game. 

Kadri’s shot into a tiny hole top shelf on the short side beside Semyon Varlavov’s mask ended any doubt the Flames would put this one away against a team running out of gas. 

“I did not call bank but that’s where I was shooting it,” Kadri told reporters after the game. “So luckily it went in. Big goal for us.”

It gave them a big lead. Three goals instead of a pair with plenty of time remaining for the Islanders to try to steal some momentum. 

“That’s certainly comforting,” Kadri added. “You never want to take your foot off the gas. When you’re up three or four goals, I think your mentality kind of stays in that one-goal frame so you don’t get ahead of yourself. 

The finish was fantastic. It helped the Flames lock up their third win in the last four games, four of their last six, and six of their last nine. Plus another single point for an overtime loss in Los Angeles in that span. 

That start, though, was critical.  Too often early this season the Calgary Flames found themselves chasing the game. 

“We talked about having a good start and playing with the lead,” said Flames winger Milan Lucic, who scored the game’s opening goal less than five minutes in. 

“Not just my goal — first shift right off the bat, we get a chance. We roll (the lines) over and go up 3-0. It just shows our focus was on having a good start and it was a big reason why we won tonight.”

Blake Coleman and Nikita Zadorov added goals in the first period before the Isles countered late in the opening frame when Zach Parise scored his 12th of the year. 

Jacob Markstrom shut down the Isles the rest of the way, including clear-cut breakaways for Casey Cizikas and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. 

“Marky was good,” Sutter said when asked about those. “But, hey, that’s the goalie’s job during the year. It’s not all easy.”

When the Flames play to their potential, sometimes they make it look that way.

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