You’ve probably already heard the jokes. The Calgary Flames had plenty of energy on Saturday night because they took Friday off. Or they had too much green beer on Thursday.
Regardless of whether either of those digs have any validity, one thing is certain: the Calgary Flames looked a lot more like the team that’s been tearing up the Pacific Division during their 5-2 victory over the Canucks in Vancouver on Hockey Night in Canada.
You wouldn’t think breaking up one of the best lines in the NHL all year would be the key, but it seemed to work.
After the 1-0 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday at the Saddledome, Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter mixed up his lines – including splitting up the top trio for the first time in recent memory. The result was plenty of production from throughout the lineup.
Matthew Tkachuk, moved from the flank alongside Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau, finished with a goal and three points. It didn’t matter that his linemates were Mikael Backlund and Dillon Dube. Dube and Backlund each also finished with an assist apiece.
Lindholm teamed with new winger Tyler Toffoli to add to the 3-0 first-period lead with a goal early in the second. Toffoli’s pass from his knees just inside the Canucks blueline found Lindholm and Lindholm found the back of the net for his 31st of the season.
Gaudreau didn’t factor in at five-on-five, but he ripped a perfect shot past Jaroslav Halak in the third period on the powerplay.
“Haven’t had much scoring lately at five on five from our goal scorers. Not a lot of good chances,” Sutter explained on Sportsnet 960. “Mikael and Matthew and Dillon have played together before. Trying to get Tyler going again and Lindy going again.
“I think sometimes you’ve just got to freshen it up a little bit. It gets a little stale.”
The NHL trade moves made by Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving have offered Sutter the opportunity to make those big changes when needed.
“It’s the only way it’s possible,” Sutter said of the addition of Toffoli. “Who else could we put on with Lindy and Johnny?”
Treliving also added Calle Jarnkrok this week, ahead of the NHL trade deadline.
Defenceman Noah Hanifin opened the scoring less than five minutes in. It was the newest member of the Calgary Flames setting him up. Jarnkrok made a nice cross-ice pass to catch the blueliner streaking up the left side of the ice.
Tkachuk made it 2-0 three minutes later with his 29th of the year on a setup from Backlund.
Rasmus Andersson, who finished with a goal and an assist, scored for the third time this year to give the Flames the 3-0 lead after 20 stellar minutes of hockey.
It was a flipped script from their worst outcome of the season in the same building just a few weeks ago. The Calgary Flames’ last visit to Vancouver ended in a 7-1 loss.
In a post-game interview with CBC at ice level, Tkachuk mentioned that as a motivating factor. It didn’t matter that the Flames went 7-2-2 since then heading into the rematch.
“Yeah we were definitely embarrassed,” Tkachuk said. “Even coming back into the building tonight. We wanted to come up with a good start and we did that.”
The Flames simply don’t lose multiple games in a row right now. Since January 13, they’ve gone 21-5-2 and have been perfect in games after losses. And it’s been more than two months.