Gaudreau scores in return as Flames roast Ducks, 8-3
Calgary Flames' Mark Giordano, left, scores a short-handed goal against Anaheim Ducks' goalie Jonathan Bernier during the third period of an NHL game in Calgary, Alberta, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press via AP)
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) The return of Johnny Gaudreau sparked Calgary to its biggest offensive outburst of the season.
Gaudreau had a goal and an assist in his first game back from a broken finger, and the Flames scored five times in a 6:04 span of the second period to rout the Anaheim Ducks 8-3 on Sunday night.
It was a surprise when it was revealed in the morning that Gaudreau would be back in the lineup less than three weeks after surgery that was expected to keep him out four to six weeks.
''I was just itching to get back out there playing with the guys,'' said Gaudreau, who has four goals in his last four games after scoring only two in his first 14. ''It's exciting to come back in here and play with the guys. It's a long 10 games when you're watching them play.''
In his absence, Calgary went 6-3-1 and had played its best defensive hockey of the season, but the club wasn't scoring a lot. The Flames had not scored more than three goals in a game since Oct. 28 against Ottawa.
Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan inserted Gaudreau on a line with Sam Bennett and Alex Chiasson. On the first shot of his first shift, Gaudreau took a drop pass from Bennett and whipped a shot past Jonathan Bernier at 2:09 to make it 1-0.
''It's pretty amazing. Johnny's been out for 2 1/2 or three weeks and hasn't lost a step,'' said Chiasson, who had three points and got in a fight. ''Some of the moves he made tonight were just stunning.''
Sixth in the NHL in scoring last season, Gaudreau was just beginning to heat up with three goals in three games when a slash from Eric Staal against Minnesota on Nov. 15 sidelined him for 10 games.
Bennett and Matt Stajan also had three points for the Flames, who finished a 3-0 homestand. Also scoring for Calgary (13-13-2) were Troy Brouwer, Dougie Hamilton, Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano.
Ryan Kesler had two goals and Logan Shaw also scored for Anaheim (12-9-5), which trailed 8-1 late in the third. Next, the Ducks return home after a 1-1-1 trip through Western Canada.
It was 1-all when Calgary scored a rare power-play goal at home 11:28 into the second, touching off a stretch of five goals on six shots against Bernier.
Calgary was 2 for 45 on the power play at the Saddledome when Brouwer tipped in Monahan's shot.
''It just seemed like the roof caved in from that point,'' Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
Chiasson shoveled in Bennett's rebound less than a minute later and 35 seconds after that, with the crowd still buzzing, Stajan deflected in Dennis Wideman's slap shot.
Back on the man advantage, the Flames made it two straight conversions when Bennett redirected in Mikael Backlund's pass at 16:37. Hamilton completed the second-period barrage 55 seconds later by ripping a slap shot into the top corner.
Carlyle said he normally would have pulled Bernier, but John Gibson was sick with the flu.
''It kind of left him hanging high and dry. We wouldn't normally have ever done that to him, but in these situations you can't put people who are sick into the net,'' Carlyle said.
Monahan and Giordano made it 8-1 with third-period goals before Kesler and Shaw scored late goals for the Ducks.
''Crazy game,'' Anaheim center Antoine Vermette said. ''When they scored a couple quick goals that was certainly a turning point in this game. After that, everything seemed to go their way.''
Starting for the 10th time in the last 12 games, Chad Johnson made 30 stops to improve to 8-2-0 during that span. He is 10-4-1 this season.
Bernier, who went the distance, finished with 17 saves. His record fell to 4-2-1.
NOTES: It was the most goals Calgary has scored since beating Edmonton 8-1 on March 22, 2014. … Micheal Ferland (hand) left the game in the first period after a fight with Kevin Bieksa, but the injury is believed to be minor. … Corey Perry has gone 18 games without a goal. … Lance Bouma (upper body) skated without a non-contact jersey Sunday and is nearing a return. He has missed 15 games.
Ducks: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night.
Flames: Play at the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.