A milestone night for Johnny Gaudreau propelled the surging Calgary Flames to yet another win Friday.
Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk each notched their 30th goal of the season as the Flames took a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Gaudreau added a pair of assists and Tkachuk contributed a helper.
Four of the 20 members in the NHL’s 30-goal club play for Calgary, including Elias Lindholm. The Swedish sniper who often skates alongside Gaudreau and Tkachuk recorded his team-leading 32nd on Friday.
The line has been key to the Flames’ success this season, said assistant coach Ryan Huska
“When we’ve needed a big goal, they’ve scored that goal. When there needs to be a big game, they’ve found a way to put together a big game for us,” he said. “The chemistry that those three guys have, it’s fun to watch, even for us behind the bench, to see some of the things that they’re able to do.”
After playing together all season, the Gaudreau-Lindholm-Tkachuk trio was broken up a week ago in an attempt to spread out the offence and it remained that way to begin the game on Friday.
But after a lacklustre first period in which the Flames were outshot 10-6, the dynamic trio were reunited to start the second.
Thirty-three seconds in, Tkachuk was left uncovered at the side of the net and he one-timed Gaudreau’s pass.
Three minutes later, the three combined on a beautiful lightning-quick tick-tack-toe passing sequence finished off by Lindholm.
Gaudreau made it 3-0 at 8:14, whipping a shot into the top corner on a two-on-0.
It was the 200th goal of Gaudreau’s career and gives him 85 points on the season, fourth in the league behind Connor McDavid (95), Leon Draisaitl (90) and Jonathan Huberdeau (85).
“You see an elite player this year, a guy that can change the game on his own,” Huska said, adding that the American is also making a bigger impact off the ice. “You also notice a little difference in him in regards to leadership around our room. So I think he’s maybe matured a little bit now. Maybe it’s married life, I don’t know what it is, but he’s been good for us.”
Tkachuk’s two-point night gave him a career-high 78 points.
“It was a pretty stale first period then we came out and got a couple quick ones in the second. That’s part of our job out there so glad we were able to do that tonight,” Tkachuk said.
Colorado, Edmonton, and Nashville – with two each – are the only other teams with more than one 30-goal scorer.
The last time Calgary had four 30-goal scorers was 1993-94. It was done that season by Gary Roberts (41), Theoren Fleury (40), Robert Reichel (40), and Joe Nieuwendyk (36).
“Up and down our lineup, we’ve got a lot of smart players on our team this year. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of and to watch,” Gaudreau said.
Rasmus Andersson also scored for Calgary (39-17-8), which improved to 16-2-2 in their last 20 games at the Saddledome.
Michael Carcone and Vladislav Kolyachonok, each with their first NHL goals, replied for Arizona (20-40-4). The Coyotes have lost four straight.
“It was a special moment. You dream about that as a kid, and when it finally happens it’s pretty surreal,” said Carcone, who ripped a shot into the top corner on Jacob Markstrom with 12 seconds left in the second.
It was Carcone’s fourth NHL game after playing six seasons in the AHL.
“It’s been an adventure. It keeps you on your toes and keeps you wanting it,” said the 25-year-old left winger. “I’ve enjoyed the experience, and still enjoying the experience, and I’m going to continue to enjoy the experience.”
Markstrom made 16 stops in the win and improved to 30-12-7. He’s the first Flames goaltender to win 30 games in a season since Miikka Kiprusoff won 35 games in 2011-12.
Karel Vejmelka had 29 saves for the Coyotes. He falls to 10-25-1.
“Really proud of them. We battled really hard. The best even-strength team in the league and it’s 2-2,” said Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny. “I’m happy about the way we played. I think the other side, they needed to raise their game after the first period to beat us.”
Calgary finished 2-for-4 on the power play while Arizona went 0-for-3.
The Flames will be back at the Saddledome on Saturday to host the Edmonton Oilers.
Flames centre Sean Monahan was a healthy scratch. The seven-time 20-goal scorer has gone 14 games without a point. Arizona centre Jay Beagle (lower body) returned to the lineup after missing 36 games. Calgary improves to 10-3-2 against the Central Division.