Flames beat Jets 3-2 to end 7-game skid
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Elias Lindholm and Adam Ruzicka each had a goal and assist as the Calgary Flames beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 Saturday night, ending a seven-game winless skid.
Trevor Lewis also scored and Rasmus Andersson had two assists for for Calgary, which came in on an 0-5-2 slide. Jacob Markstrom had 21 saves.
Ruzicka was playing his third consecutive game after being a healthy scratch for 10 of the first 11 games, skating on the left side of the top line with Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli in place of the injured Jonathan Huberdeau (upper body). He teamed with Lindholm on the Flames’ first two goals.
“Pretty easy to fit into that line, easy to play with those guys,” said the 23-year-old Ruzicka, playing just his 35th career NHL game. “Just do my job, work hard and obviously the points are going to come.”
Neal Pionk and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for Winnipeg, which was 6-0-1 with the league’s third-longest active points streak. Connor Hellebuyck finished with 32 stops.
Calgary native Josh Morrissey had two assists to continue his strong start. The Jets’ leading scorer is up to 13 assists, halfway to his career high of 26 set in 2019-20.
“Not our worst game but we were facing a desperate club,” Pionk said. “We’ve got to match their intensity no matter what the situation is.”
Ten seconds into a holding penalty to Flames defenseman Mackenzie Weegar late in the second period, Mikael Backlund broke in on a 2-on-1 and sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Lewis, who went forehand-backhand as he cut across the top of the crease to give Calgary a 3-2 lead with 1:29 left.
A melee behind the Flames’ net resulted in Markstrom getting a tripping penalty to give the Jets a two-man advantage for 1:19. However, Calgary’s maligned penalty-kill came through to preserve the lead.
The Flames got on the scoreboard at 3:23 of the opening period as Ruzicka sent a backhand toward the front of the net from the corner that glanced off Lindholm’s stick in front and squeaked between Hellebuyck’s pads.
Pionk tied it 1-1 with 5:14 remaining when his point shot caromed in off Flames defenseman Connor Mackey.
Calgary went back ahead with 2:38 to go in the first as Lindholm set up Ruzicka with a cross-ice pass that the Slovakian buried for his first of the season.
“Tonight he played a real good game and hopefully he can build off that, too,” Lindholm said of Ruzicka. “That’s the Adam we expect. … He’s got a lot of skill, big body, and used to put up a lot of points (in junior, the AHL) and obviously has a good chance now.”
Winnipeg tied it at 4:23 of the second, taking advantage of a lapse in defensive coverage by the Flames that left Dubois wide open for a tap-in after being set up neatly by Morrissey.
Among Markstrom’s saves was a highlight-reel effort in the first period when he slid across the crease, stacking his pads and windmilling out his catching hand to rob Mark Scheifele.
“That’s pretty cool. The stack the pads, that’s old school, Ron Hextall maybe?” said Flames defenceman Chris Tanev. “Definitely in those days. But a huge save for us and he made those all night.”
After giving up power-play goals in seven straight games, the Flames are a perfect 8 for 8 on the penalty-kill over the last two games — including 3 for 3 against the Jets.
“Sometimes a good kill won’t give you much,” Dubois said. “You just have to take what they give you. Sometimes it’s just up and over and a shot and a one-timer. … I thought tonight, maybe 5-on-5 too, we were trying to perfect play it too much.”
After missing five games with an upper body injury, Calgary welcomed back veteran defenseman Chris Tanev. However, he did not return to his regular D pairing, instead partnering with Mackey, who returned after being a healthy scratch the past two games.
Jets: At Seattle on Sunday night to finish a back-to-back on the road.
Flames: Host Los Angeles on Monday night to wrap up a two-game homestand.
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