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Flames smother Coyotes after clinching playoff spot

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Calgary Flames vs Arizona Coyotes April 16, 2022

Perhaps the Calgary Flames came out flat to start Saturday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes because they knew they’d already clinched a playoff spot.

Earlier that day, the Edmonton Oilers beat the Vegas Golden Knights, making it impossible for the latter to catch the Flames in the Pacific Division race.

No matter.

While the last-place Coyotes took advantage of the Flames’ early first-period swoon, taking a 1-0 lead on a Nick Ritchie goal to the dressing room after 20 minutes, Calgary opened the scoring floodgates in earnest to start the second.

And how.

Six-goal second

En route to a 9-1 Flames slaughtering of the visitors, Dillon Dube started a six-goal scoring parade that frame with a goal at the 36-second mark.

It was followed in quick succession with tallies by Andrew Mangiapane (1:16), Matthew Tkachuk (2:18) and Dube again (3:11).

The four-goal surge prompted the Coyotes to pull goalie Harri Sateri for Karel Vejmelka.

Blake Coleman and Elias Lindholm added the remaining second-period Flames snipes inside the final five minutes of it.

More in the third

The Flames didn’t stop there, of course, their top line providing the remaining fireworks in the final period.

With Sateri — a late March waiver-wire pickup from the Toronto Maple Leafs — back between the pipes for Arizona, Johnny Gaudreau got in on the scoring action, putting the puck past the 32-year-old Finn with a slap shot from the faceoff dot at 2:43.

Tkachuk would add his second goal of the game on a deflection two-and-a-half minutes later, and Gaudreau potted his second at 8:43 to round out the Saddledome scoring barrage.

Gaudreau (2G 2A) Tkachuk (2G 2A) and Lindholm (1G 3A) each finished the game with four points, with Tkachuk tying Lindholm for the team goal-scoring lead at 39 and edging closer to the 100-point plateau with 96.

Gaudreau’s performance Saturday night gives him 105 points so far this season, good for sixth in franchise history, with seven games left in the Flames’ schedule.

Each goal in the game was scored at even strength.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 25 shots in the victory. Sateri stopped 24 of 31 and Vejmelka eight of 10 for the Coyotes.

Up next for the Flames: road games on back-to-back nights in Chicago on Monday and in Nashville on Tuesday.

Magic number to clinch Pacific: 3

The Flames’ magic number for claiming top spot in the Pacific Division is now three: any combination of Flames wins and Oilers losses.

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