Hockey Night in Canada


Tkachuk, Gaudreau tie career-highs as Flames ignite to roll past Vegas

Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau tied career-highs with four-point nights on Monday as the Calgary Flames took over top spot in the Pacific Division with a 7-2 rout of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Calgary takes over top spot in Pacific with 7-2 rout

Matthew Tkachuk, centre, of the Flames celebrates a goal with teammates Sam Bennett, left, and Mikael Backlund, during Calgary's 7-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press )

Johnny Gaudreau equalled a career-high with four points on Monday night and with it all coming in the first period, he put his name in the Calgary Flames record book, too.

Gaudreau's goal and three assists, complemented by Matthew Tkachuks two goals and two assists, helped the Flames take over top spot in the Pacific Division with a 7-2 rout of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Calgary is even in points with the San Jose Sharks, but have one more regulation/overtime win.

"He's a dynamic player and he's a very creative player and he sees it," said Flames coach Bill Peters of Gaudreau. "There's not a whole bunch of them that have the ability to slow the game down and buy time for guys to get open and he's got it."

Calgary blew the game open early, jumping out to a 5-0 first period lead. Gaudreau became the 10th player in franchise history — and first since Olli Jokinen (Feb. 14, 2011) — to register four points in a period.

Vegas goalie Malcolm Subban looks at the scoreboard. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press )

Gaudreau's handiwork began 2:36 into the game when he set up Tkachuk, who also tied a career best net. Tkachuk whipped a 20-foot wristshot past Malcolm Subban for a power-play goal.

Gaudreau made it 2-0 at 6:49 on the play of the night, ripping a shot over Subban's glove to complete a tic-tac-to passing sequence with linemates Elias Lindholm and Monahan.

"Smart play by a smart player," said Gaudreau, describing Lindholm's play that began the sequence. "He's 20 to 30 feet ahead of us and he has a one-on-two, pulls up, finds [Monahan], next thing you know it's a two-on-two then I'm coming in the play and it's a three-on-two. For him to have that awareness, he's pretty smart."

Gaudreau pounced on a turnover in the Vegas slot and set up Monahan's one-timer for a 3-0 lead at 10:59, then capped off his record-tying period by setting up Monahan's second of the period and team-leading 12th goal.

Calgary's Sean Monahan had a big night with two goals and an assist. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

"He's a big-time threat to take the puck to the net and then when he pulls up and delays, you've got guys with good timing coming late, that's when you see all those seam passes and East-West passes," Peters said. "All of a sudden the goaltender is out playing the shooter and it's a long lateral pass and he can't get across."

TJ Brodie and Sam Bennett rounded out the scoring for Calgary (12-8-1), which plays Vegas again on Friday at T-Mobile Arena.

Nick Holden and Max Pacioretty scored third-period goals for the Golden Knights (9-12-1), who won 6-3 in Edmonton on Sunday

"It's hard to believe that this happened tonight, the way we played last night but that's hockey," said Vegas coach Gerard Gallant. "It's pretty disappointing and I hope they're disappointed because they didn't show up."

For the Flames, who lead the league with six third period comebacks, Monahan says it was nice to play from in front for a change.

"It's fun, obviously, when you're putting the puck in the net and you're winning like that. That's the best part of hockey," said Monahan. "This is a team, I think we needed a win like that."

Second-year Czech goaltender David Rittich made 20 saves to improve to 7-1-0. It was the second start in a row for Rittich, 26, who is getting more playing time with veteran Mike Smith struggling.

Subban went the distance for Vegas, finishing with 25 stops. After going 13-4-2 as a rookie last season, Subban has lost all four starts this season.

"I don't have any answers for you right now, but we're supposed to be a fast team and it's probably the slowest we played all year," said Vegas winger Reilly Smith. "It put us behind the 8-ball and really lost that game for us early."


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