After recording his first-career NHL hat trick Matthew Tkachuk deflected most of the credit to his linemates.
“They were awesome,” Tkachuk said in regards to playing alongside Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik. “Gave me a couple tap-in birdies there, a couple open nets. They were awesome tonight to play with.”
Backlund had two goals and an assist for the Flames, who beat the Vegas Golden Knights 6-3 at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday to snap their four-game losing streak and move back atop the Pacific Division standings ahead of the San Jose Sharks.
“Right off the hop we skated well, had some energy,” Backlund said. “I thought all night we had some good forechecks. We made some good plays, smart plays. Overall, both Fro and Chucky had a good night. We’re, of course, happy and satisfied with helping the team win.”
Tkachuk also had an assist, while Frolik set up four goals as the line combined for 11 points.
Andrew Mangiapane also scored for Calgary (42-20-7), while goalie David Rittich made 25 saves to improve his record to 23-7-5.
Brandon Pirri, Reilly Smith and Mark Stone scored for the Golden Knights (38-27-5), whose winning streak ended at six games.
“The start wasn’t there tonight and ultimately that cost us,” said Vegas forward Max Pacioretty in regards to his team falling behind 2-0 early and 3-1 after the first period.
“They’re a good team for a reason. They were hungry for that win tonight.”
After giving up two early goals, goalie Malcolm Subban finished with 29 saves in the Vegas net.
“The early two goals put us behind and we started chasing from there,” said Vegas coach Gerard Gallant, who didn’t fault Subban for the loss.
“He made some key saves at key times when it was 3-3. He kept us in that game. We just gave them too many good chances.”
Mangiapane opened the scoring for the Flames at 2:40 of the first period when he snapped a shot over Subban’s left pad after being set up in the slot by linemate Garnet Hathaway.
Backlund put the Flames up 2-0 at 7:37 when he skated across the blue-line and let go a long-range wrist shot that beat Subban over his left pad once again.
Pirri converted a nice pass from Alex Tuch at 14:40 of the first to pull the Golden Knights back within a goal. Situated behind the Calgary net, Tuch kicked a hard pass from Cody Eakin onto his stick before quickly throwing it out front to Pirri for a one-timer.
Tkachuk extended Calgary’s lead to 3-1 with 62 seconds left in the opening period when he tapped a cross-crease feed from Frolik past Subban.
Smith and Stone were also the beneficiaries of nice passes from their linemates early in the second period as the Golden Knights pulled into a 3-3 tie. Smith took a pass from William Karlsson and backhanded a shot in behind Rittich just 21 seconds into the period before Stone one-timed a feed from Paul Stastny past the Calgary goalie 59 seconds later.
Backlund redirected Rasmus Andersson’s point shot past Subban with 21.8 seconds remaining before the second intermission for a power-play goal to put Calgary back up by one.
“Penalties, it seems like they’re costing us,” lamented Smith after the loss. “Our penalty kill, we have to be better right now. Too many times in games we’re losing because of costly goals like those, so we’ve just got to be a little bit sharper on the penalty kill because I think that was a big turning point in the game.”
Tkachuk one-timed a pass from Backlund past Subban at 15:43 of the third period before rounding out the scoring with an empty-net goal.
Notes: Playing in his 100th NHL game, forward Austin Czarnik drew an assist on Backlund’s second goal of the game. … Stastny has recorded nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past eight games.