Johnny Gaudreau's goal early in the first period held up and Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots for Calgary's first shutout of the season, fuelling a 1-0 victory for the Flames over the Minnesota Wild that ended their four-game losing streak on Tuesday night.
Outscored 17-4 over the skid, with two of those goals from Gaudreau, Johnson and the Flames gave their NHL-worst goals against average a big boost. Their scoring differential, now at minus-19, is last in the league.
Flames goalie Brian Elliott, formerly of the St. Louis Blues, has an 8-2 record with a 2.18 goals against average in 12 career games against the Wild, but Johnson got the call from coach Glen Gulutzan instead.
Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves for the Wild and has given up only nine goals in his last eight games, stopping 245 of 254 shots.
The Wild brought the NHL's fifth-best penalty kill at 88.1 per cent into the game, but Gaudreau tallied the sixth power play goal against them this season just 6:05 into the game. Johnny Hockey made a slick move worthy of his intrepid nickname, snagging a lead pass from Mark Giordano and skating across the front of the goal mouth to get Dubnyk to go with him before tucking in a backhander for the lead.
That came just seconds after Mikko Koivu misfired on a breakaway shot. Jason Zucker and Mike Reilly each hit posts later in the game for the Wild, whose stretch of 10 games in 17 days didn't start smoothly. They fell to 4-2 at home after their first contest at Xcel Energy Center in two weeks.
The game devolved into a slog of penalties and scuffles throughout the second period, spilling over into the third, and the Wild weren't able to knock any shots past Johnson despite myriad scoring opportunities. They've allowed an NHL-low 29 goals in 15 games.
The Wild welcomed left wing Zach Parise back to the lineup after a six-game absence due to a lower-body injury that was unrelated to the back trouble that kept him out of the playoffs last spring, putting him on the third line with Erik Haula and Jason Pominville. Defenceman Marco Scandella, who was hurt in the same game as Parise on Oct. 27 at Buffalo, remains on long-term injured reserve with a high sprain of his right ankle.
For the Flames, left wing Matthew Tkachuk returned from a wrist injury that kept him out for the last two games and joined Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik on the second line as Gulutzan gave the NHL's first team to 10 regulation losses a different look. Gaudreau was centred by Sean Monahan on the first line, with Troy Brouwer on the right wing.