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Johnny Gaudreau's goal and assist paces Flames to 5-2 win over Canucks

CALGARY — A first-period rescue by Jacob Markstrom and offensive wizardry from Johnny Gaudreau propelled the Calgary Flames to Monday's 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Gaudreau scored Calgary's first goal of the game and assisted on another in the second period after Markstrom turned away 15-of-16 shots in the first.

Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Mark Giordano and Rasmus Andersson with an empty-net goal also scored for the Flames (2-0-1).

Markstrom earned a second straight win over his former team with 25 saves.

"He did everything that you want a goalie to do," Flames head coach Geoff Ward said. "He kept us in and gave us a chance to win. In the big moments when we needed a big save, he made it."

Jake Virtanen and Tyler Myers replied for the Canucks (1-3-0), who played their fourth road game in six days. Thatcher Demko stopped 27 shots in the loss.

Markstrom, a Canuck for seven seasons before signing a six-year, US$36-million contract with Calgary in October, had posted a 32-save shutout in Calgary's 3-0 win over Vancouver on Saturday.

"Right now, he deserves the contract," Lindholm said.

Demko was pulled for an extra attacker with four minutes to play, and Vancouver went to work on a two-man advantage when Calgary's Andrew Mangiapane took a tripping minor at 16:56.

The visitors didn't produce another goal, however, and Andersson scored into an empty net with 55 seconds remaining.

Vancouver's Myers scored shorthanded at 13:15 of the third period.

Giordano teed up a blast from the top of the face-off circle that Demko couldn't get his glove on for a power-play goal at 6:40 of the third period.

Outplayed in the first period, Calgary's 20-3 margin in shots in the second was bolstered by four power-play chances and winning more draws in the face-off circle.

Lindholm stretched Calgary's lead to 3-1 just two seconds before the second-period buzzer. He one-timed Gaudreau's cross-ice feed past Demko during a Calgary two-man advantage.

The hosts led 2-1 by 13:30 when Backlund scored his first goal of the season.  The Swedish centre rifled a rebound over Demko.

Gaudreau pulled the Flames even at 12:05 on a give-and-go with Sean Monahan and Dominik Simon providing a screen.

"You can see when he's feeling it a little bit and those are the nights when he can take a team on his back and carry us," Ward said of Gaudreau. "Tonight he was feeling it and you could see it just building. He's such a tremendous player. He's got a special skill set."

Canucks winger J.T. Miller returned from COVID-19 protocol that kept him out of Vancouver's lineup the first three games of the regular season, but defenceman Jordie Benn has yet to play.

The visitors outshot Calgary 16-4 and dominated the face-off circle in the first period, but led just 1-0 due to Markstrom's work.

The Flames goaltender turned away five shots on a Vancouver power play starting two and a half minutes after the opening faceoff.

"Our first period was maybe our best period of the year so far and we responded in the second not very well," Myers said. "We need to get more dialed in and a little more focused on the way we have to play to win.

"We can turn things around very quickly here. It's a mindset. We've got to buy in as a group for a full 60 and not just for 20 minutes."

Virtanen's long shot from the high boards deflected off Flames defenceman Juuso Valimaki and over Markstrom's shoulder at 10:17.

The Canucks head home after three straight road losses. Vancouver hosts the Montreal Canadiens in back-to-back games starting Wednesday.

The Canucks play 11 games in their first 18 days of an NHL regular season shortened and condensed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Time to get going," Demko said.  "Losing three in a row is not good enough for this team. Our expectations are higher than that."

Calgary, by contrast, has a five-day break before hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday afternoon.

Notes: The Flames signed 30-year-old defenceman Mike Stone to a one-year, two-way contract Monday . . . Canucks defenceman Nate Schmidt played his 400th career NHL game Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press