Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and two assists, Matthew Tkachuk scored for a third straight game and the Calgary Flames beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 on Sunday night.
Elias Lindholm and Trevor Lewis also scored for Calgary, Oliver Kylington added a long empty-netter and Jacob Markstrom blocked 30 shots in the Flames’ second straight win. Calgary is coming off a COVID-19 outbreak that shut the team down from Dec. 11 until Dec. 30, when they topped the Kraken in Seattle.
The Flames have roared back with 11 goals in two games, while allowing five, and their top line of Gaudreau, Tkachuk and Lindholm has led the way. Gaudreau has been as slick as ever with three goals and three assists in the two wins.
“He keeps building his game and seems to have fun out there,” Lindholm said. “Usually when we play with him, you just try to find an open space and he’ll find you.”
The Flames took charge in the second period, outshooting Chicago 26-9 in the frame to tie a franchise record for shots in a period.
“It was a fun period to be part of,” Lindholm said. “We want to see more of that. It was a really good period from our side.”
Coach Darryl Sutter was happy with getting a complete effort from his club after a sluggish start.
“We’re trying to get everyone back up to speed and it’s not easy,” Sutter said. “Everyone has reacted differently to the virus and you have to manage you’re way through it and play smart.”
Alex DeBrincat scored his team-leading 18th goal, but Chicago dropped its fourth straight.
Arvid Soderblom made his first NHL start with 37 saves, including one on Dillon Dube’s third-period penalty shot. Soderblom made his NHL debut Saturday, playing the second and third period of Chicago’s 6-1 loss at Nashville.
Chicago interim coach Derek King said his team had only a few “passengers” Sunday after he thought nearly half his players weren’t ready in a 6-1 loss at Nashville on Saturday. And King was impressed with the 22-year-old Soderblom, saying “the poor kid played a hell of a game for us.”
Marc-Andre Fleury, the Blackhawks’ top goalie, returned from COVID-19 protocol Sunday and was on the bench the as the backup.
Sunday’s game was Chicago’s second in two days after a 13-day layoff when four of its contests were postponed because of COVID-19. The Blackhawks played their first home game since Dec. 17 in an uncharacteristically quiet United Center, where there were plenty of empty seats.
DeBrincat opened the scoring 9:41 into the game, ripping in a one-timer from the slot after taking Patrick Kane’s pinpoint pass through traffic from behind the net.
Tkachuk tied it with a slick, on-the-fly deflection with 6:47 left in the first. Cutting through the crease, Tkachuk redirected Gaudreau’s feed past Soderblom low on the stick side for his 14th goal.
Lindholm’s power-play goal midway through the second put Calgary ahead 2-1. His low one-timer from edge of the right circle slipped through Soderblom as Tkachuk screened at the edge of the crease.
Moments after stopping Mikael Backlund on a breakaway, Soderblom gave up a short-handed goal to Lewis with 2:14 left in the period that made it 3-1. Lewis skated unchecked from the left corner, then lofted in a backhander on the short side.
Following an empty-netter from Kylington with 1:55 left, Gaudreau completed the scoring from the left circle 29 seconds later.
Kevin Lankinen, Chicago’s usual backup goalie, remained in COVID-19 protocol. Tkachuk also has two assists in the last three games along with his three goals. Chicago F Josiah Slavin was activated from the taxi squad and F MacKenzie Entwistle was assigned. Soderblom, a 22-year-old Swede, was never drafted. He signed with Chicago last summer, then was 4-5-0 with a .915 save percentage at Rockford. Chicago F Ryan Carpenter and D Riley Stillman were scratched.
Flames: At Florida on Tuesday.
Blackhawks: Host Colorado on Tuesday.