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Youngsters Lead Flames Charge In Important Win Over Coyotes

The Calgary Flames enjoyed an injection of youth and it translated into a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. Rookies Jakob Pelletier and Walker Duehr each had a goal and an assist.



More youth, stat. Inject it straight into the Calgary Flames lineup. 

Rookies Walker Duehr and Jakob Pelletier had massive performances when the team needed it most. Their contributions helped ensure the Flames accomplished something they have rarely done this season — outplay an opponent over the final 20 minutes of a period. 

Called up after the injury to defenceman Michael Stone this week, Duehr continued to show he belongs in the NHL in a big 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday at Mullett Arena. It was one of many must-wins for a squad with an uncertain future

The 25-year-old set up the first goal of the game, feeding veteran Milan Lucic from behind the goal-line. In the third period, he scored one of his own. The fourth-liner has played nine games with the Flames this season and has three goals and four points. Not bad for a guy who played his career-high of 13:02 in Wednesday’s win. 

As for Pelletier, he had two points in the third period alone. Both on the powerplay — which has been an Achilles heel for the Calgary Flames this season. 

The 21-year-old scored his second goal and first game-winner in his 12th NHL contest. He also finished with a two-point game, with both points coming in the third period with the Flames and Coyotes tied at three apiece. 

To say the young guys made an impression is an understatement. 

“We needed our young guys to make some progress here this year. Said it in training camp and keep saying it,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter told reporters in Arizona post-game. “We want to be a top team, we need these young guys to take another step.”

There’s no doubt Duehr brings a certain energy to the game. He’s quick, physical, and relentless in puck battles in the corners. But his dazzling forehand to backhand move over the blocker and in on Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka (who had to make 45 saves on the night) showed his knack for the net, too. 

“Energy’s one thing but this is the NHL,” Sutter said, grinning at the reporter who asked the question and offering a humorous jab in the process. “I mean, you could go out there with energy; doesn’t mean you can play.

“It’s the NHL, you gotta be able to play at a high level.”

Walker was a big reason for the Flames’ quick start and dominant first period. He set the tone physically and had his assist in the first five minutes as the Flames outshot the Coyotes 18-3 over the first 20 minutes. 

“His pace and his speed makes a difference to our team, for sure,” said Sutter. 

Pelletier was a star in the third, tipping a Noah Hanifin shot past Vejmelka at 4:53 of the final frame. Duehr scored 24 seconds later to give the Flames a two-goal lead after coming back from a 3-1 deficit thanks to a wild second period. Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli tied things up late after Nick Schmaltz, Clayton Keller (a Chris Tanev own-goal) and Matias Macdelli scored three straight to take a surprising lead. 

“Need him to produce. It’s very simple,” Sutter said of Pelletier coming through in the third. “We’re giving him really good opportunities to be a good player. Take advantage of it. 

“They’ve done a good job.”

They sure did on Wednesday. 

But Duehr could work on his celebrations. Pelletier’s enthusiastic crouch and holler and the fact he scored the game-winner gave him the edge on the night.

“Maybe I was just surprised it went in, I don’t know,” Duehr said of his celly. “I just remember I almost took out the ref there — so I was just trying not to hurt him. 

“Pelts — that’s just Pelts’ personality. He’s a fun guy to be around and when he scores, that’s just his true self there. That’s good to see for him.”

It’s good to see for both, who we’ll probably be seeing a lot of the rest of the way. 

Not that they’re feeling any pressure. 

“It’s not pressure,” Pelletier said. “I mean, if you want to win, you have to score goals, right? For me, also, I think that was my 12th game tonight? 

“I think now it’s time to step up and score goals.”

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