The Calgary Flames were happy with their overall game despite winning just two of their last seven outings prior to Sunday.
That faith in the system paid off with a big victory over a depleted opponent.
Mark Giordano scored twice, Sam Bennett had a goal and three assists, and the Flames snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-1 victory over the injury-riddled Vancouver Canucks.
“We’ve been playing well lately,” said Giordano. ”Tonight we got the breaks.”
Mark Jankowski added a goal and two assists for Calgary (17-13-3), while Matthew Tkachuk and Micheal Ferland also scored for the Flames, who entered just 2-4-1 since a 7-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 2.
“You like to see that, when lots of guys are getting on the board,” said Bennett. ”It’s good for everyone’s confidence.”
Backup goalie David Rittich made 16 saves to pick up his third win and Dougie Hamilton chipped in with two assists for a team that head coach Glen Gulutzan said is playing its best two-way game since he was hired before the 2016-17 campaign.
“I give these guys credit,” said Gulutzan, whose club lost 2-0 at home to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. ”They’ve stuck with it.”
Markus Granlund replied for Vancouver (15-15-4), which lost rookie phenom Brock Boeser to a foot injury early in the second period.
Jacob Markstrom allowed five goals on 19 shots — with four beating him to the stick side — before getting replaced by Anders Nilsson to start the third period. Nilsson made 18 saves in relief as the Canucks lost in regulation for the fifth time in six games while getting outscored 29-9.
“There were probably a couple tonight Marky would like to have back,” said Vancouver head coach Travis Green. “We also gave up some chances we shouldn’t have.”
Coming off that loss to the Predators that saw them drop to 0-2-1 over their last three, the Flames opened the scoring at 5:45 of the first when Bennett fed a pass in front to Jankowski, who beat Markstrom for his sixth of the season.
Thomas Vanek had an opportunity with seven minutes left in the period for Vancouver, but he couldn’t control a bouncing puck at the side of the net on a play that resulted in Rittich, who got the nod ahead of No. 1 goalie Mike Smith, getting penalized for throwing his stick.
It was one of the few sequences where Rittich had to sweat in what was a relatively easy night for Czech netminder.
“Like skating practice for me, not a lot of shots because guys played really well and blocked a lot of shots,” he said. ”They played like they don’t need a goalie so I just say, ‘Thanks guys.’”
The Canucks snapped a four-game losing streak — which included a complete no-show in a 7-1 home loss to Nashville on Wednesday — with Friday’s spirited 4-3 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks, but were never really in this one.
Things went from bad to worse early in the second when Boeser, who leads the Canucks in both goals (17) and points (30), took a Giordano shot off the skate and did not return.
The NHL’s rookie scoring leader crawled in agony to the bench, and didn’t put any weight on his left leg as he exited to the locker-room at a hushed Rogers Arena.
Boeser was seen on crutches after the game, but the team didn’t provide an update.
Vancouver is already without two of its top forwards in Bo Horvat (fractured foot) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw), defencemen Christopher Tanev (groin strain) and Erik Gudbranson (upper body), as well as checking centre Brandon Sutter (upper body).
“It’s not a lot of fun right now,” said Canucks forward Daniel Sedin. ”We have a lot of young guys that are going to get more ice time.”
Giordano scored his first of the night, and fifth of the year, at 3:56 of the second with the teams playing 4-on-4 when he walked around Ben Hutton and beat Markstrom shortside.
The Flames, who improved to 9-4-3 on the road, then put the game out of reach during a four-minute span.
Tkachuk made it 3-0 with his seventh at 15:47, Giordano got his second of the night at 18:47 before Bennett ripped his fifth exactly a minute later to make it 5-0 through 40 minutes.
Granlund broke Rittich’s bid for his first career shutout in just his fourth start at 6:48 of the third on the power play, but Ferland made it 6-1 on a Calgary man advantage at 11:09 to snap an 0-for-23 drought.
“This is a stick-with-it league,” said Gulutzan. ”We had some guys step up.
“We had lots of guys going, and we need to continue with that.”
Notes: The Flames won the season series 3-1-0. … Vancouver wraps up a four-game homestand Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens. … Calgary hosts the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press