Connauton scores again to help Coyotes burn Flames

CALGARY, Alberta — Kevin Connauton believes he’s playing the best hockey of his career.

Connauton had a goal and an assist in continue his superb second half, and the Arizona Coyotes beat the Calgary Flames 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Connauton has 10 goals in 30 games since the All-Star break, tying him with Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman for most among defenseman since Jan. 28. The 28-year-old had just one goal in the first 42 games this year.

“I’m playing a lot more confident. Using my skating, using my shot,” the 28-year-old said. “Had a rough year last year with injuries and then sitting out. So the beginning of the year, I was still trying to get back to my game, but I think I’m back there now.”

Richard Panik, Christian Fischer and Dylan Strome also scored for Arizona, which has won three in a row.

Nick Shore got his first goal as a Flame. Injury-riddled Calgary has lost eight of nine.

“I don’t think the guys are not putting the effort in, it’s just not coming easy for us right now,” veteran forward Tanner Glass said.

Arizona struck first at 3:48 of the first period when Panik deflected Connauton’s point shot past rookie goaltender Jon Gillies.

Panik has also been on a tear with six goals in his last 10 games.

Connauton made it 2-0 at 16:39 on a nifty play at the blue line. After a fake shot that sent Curtis Lazar spinning to the ice, he wristed a shot inside the goal post on a screened Gillies.

Connauton is in the final season of his two-year deal and is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“I’ve had some ups and downs, but you grow from those things. When you get pushed back a little bit, it motivates you and you keep driving forward and I’m excited to see what happens this summer,” he said.

The teams exchanged goals early in the second period. Fischer was credited with a goal at 2:18 when a rebound off Gillies’ pad caromed in off the skate of rookie Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson.

Shore put Calgary on the scoreboard at 4:32, snapping Lazar’s rebound past Antti Raanta for his first goal since being acquired by the Flames in a trade with the Ottawa Senators.

It was the only puck to elude Raanta, who had 42 saves in picking up his sixth consecutive victory. He improves to 21-16-6 on the season.

Gillies had 17 stops and fell to 2-4-1.

Calgary’s power play woes continued. The Flames are 0 for 30 in the last 12 games and 1 for 48 over the last 17 games.

NOTES: Arizona D Jakob Chychrun (lower body) left the game late in the first period and did not return. … In a new-look first line for Calgary, Sam Bennett moved to center between Johnny Gaudreau and rookie Spencer Foo. … Arizona improves to 18-1-1 when giving up two or fewer goals.

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Coyotes play at Vancouver on Thursday night.