CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Following a slow start to the season, six straight wins have put the Calgary Flames in first place.
Dougie Hamilton scored twice during a four-goal second period and added an assist to lead the streaking Flames over the Winnipeg Jets 6-2 on Saturday night.
The Flames (16-13-2) vaulted into the top spot in the Pacific Division with their sixth consecutive victory – the team’s longest winning streak since last December.
”We’ve just got to keep this rolling. It’s been really fun the last little while when you’re having success,” said Calgary rookie Matthew Tkachuk, who had three assists.
Mikael Backlund had a goal and two assists, while Sam Bennett, Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan also scored for Calgary. Chad Johnson made 26 saves.
”We’re not relying on a couple guys,” Tkachuk said. ”We know every night something different is probably going to happen and it seems like we’re getting basically everybody involved.”
Nikolaj Ehlers and Jacob Trouba had the goals for the Jets (13-15-3), who have lost three in a row. Michael Hutchinson turned aside 25 of 29 shots in 40 minutes before giving way to Connor Hellebuyck, who made six saves.
After a scoreless opening period in which Calgary had a decided edge in play, Hamilton finally solved Hutchinson just before the midway point of the second with a pinpoint shot through a screen.
Tkachuk set up the defenseman with a drop pass in the high slot, and Hamilton fired a shot through his teammate’s legs into the net.
”I yelled at (Tkachuk) pretty loud and he laid it in there perfectly for me and set a good screen. Two good plays by him, for sure,” said Hamilton, who has four goals in the last four games. ”I saw their D and him and just kind of waited until I could see some white space in there. As soon as it opened up, I tried to put it through.”
After Bennett doubled the lead with a shot into the top corner, Hamilton got his second goal of the game with a drive from the point.
Backlund added to the lead before the period ended with a sharp-angle shot on the power play.
”Right now we’re playing to win and we’re finding ways to win,” said Tkachuk, who turns 19 on Sunday. ”At the beginning of the year, everybody knows it, we were finding ways to not win. We didn’t have that belief we could win. Now we’re a really confident group.”
Bouma, playing his second game since missing 16 with a shoulder injury, and Monahan scored in the third. Monahan’s goal extended his point streak to seven games (four goals, nine points).
Ehlers spoiled Johnson’s shutout bid with a power-play goal in the third period, and Trouba scored with 0.1 seconds left.
”We were behind the game the entire night,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said.
The Flames won just five of their first 16 games, but have won 11 of 15 since. Johnson has been instrumental in the run, but this was one of the easier nights for him.
It’s not the same story for the Jets, or their goalies.
Hutchinson started consecutive games for only the second time this season and first since late October, and it was a familiar result.
The last time Hutchinson was in net for two straight games, he followed up a 37-save shutout in a 1-0 win over Colorado by giving up three goals on 15 shots and being pulled just past the midway point against Buffalo in a 3-1 loss.
On Saturday, Hutchinson was lifted after the second period, having allowed four goals on 29 shots.
”We didn’t play the game,” Ehlers said. ”We didn’t play hard enough. We didn’t play smart.”
NOTES: Calgary’s Kris Versteeg (upper body) missed his second consecutive game but is likely to return this week. … Jets rookie Josh Morrissey played as a pro in his hometown for the first time in his career. … The home team has won the last six meetings between these teams. … Calgary’s power play has converted at least once in five straight games. … With a pair of assists, Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau has points in all four games since returning from a broken finger that sidelined him for 10 games. … Winnipeg has been outscored 43-20 in the second period this season.
Jets: At the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night.
Flames: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.