Flames hand Canucks 4th straight loss
Calgary keeps faint playoff hopes alive
While Johnny Gaudreau gets all the hype for his sublime playmaking ability, teammate TJ Brodie is no slouch himself.
Brodie continued his red-hot play of late with three assists on Friday night to lead the hometown Calgary Flames to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
With a career-high 32 helpers on the season, including 11 in the last eight games, Brodie is just two back of Gaudreau for the team lead in that category.
"The way that he skates, the way that he jumps in the play, he can change direction so quickly that he's basically impossible to defend," said Flames coach Bob Hartley, when asked about Brodie.
Two of the assists came in the second period as Calgary scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead.
The go-ahead goal at 5:34 came off the stick of Michael Frolik. Set up in the slot by Brodie, Frolik's shot changed directions off the skate of Canucks defenceman Matt Bartkowski.
The Flames made it 4-2 on Giordano's 14th goal with 25 seconds remaining. Again, it was Brodie with the set-up.
"Lately, we've been trying to play more of a five-man unit. Jumping through the holes, trying to find the pockets, and get pucks to the net and it worked out for us tonight," said Brodie.
Also with big nights offensively for Calgary (26-28-3) were Joe Colborne, Mikael Backlund and Frolik, who each had a goal and an assist. Josh Jooris also scored as the Flames snapped a three-game losing streak and kept their faint playoff hopes alive.
Calgary is nine points back of the Colorado Avalanche and the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Adam Cracknell and Jake Virtanen scored for Vancouver (22-24-12). The Canucks have lost four in a row, each by the identical score of 5-2.
"You can't let the negativity take over. You've got to stick together as a team," said Jacob Markstrom, who had 28 stops. "We're in the same boat. Nobody wants to be in this boat, but the reality is we're all in it. We've got to find a way to get out of it."
The Canucks open up a five-game homestand on Sunday against Colorado. They are winless in their last six at Rogers Arena (0-5-1).
"We're obviously going to have to step up as a team," said Virtanen. "The younger guys are going to have to step up and the older guys are going to have to keep on playing hard."
Down 2-1 after the first period, Calgary tied it 2-2 at 2:07 of the second. From a mad scramble beside the goal crease, Backlund chipped the puck over Markstrom. After scoring five goals in the season's first 50 games, Backlund has five goals in his last seven games.
The Flames play in Anaheim on Sunday.
Making his fourth straight start since Karri Ramo's season-ending knee injury, Jonas Hiller won for the first time. He had given up 12 goals in the first three games but bounced back with a 26-save effort.