CALGARY — Down 2-0 before the game was three minutes old, the Calgary Flames rallied after the poor start and matched a season high with their third straight victory.
Rasmus Andersson notched the game-winner at 15:57 of the third period and added two assists in the 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.
“Obviously not the start we wanted,” said the Flames defenceman. “First 10 minutes weren’t good enough, but we got a little bit of momentum toward the end of the first that we carried with us to start the second.”
On a power play that carried over from the first period, Nazem Kadri got Calgary on the scoreboard just 16 seconds into the frame when he redirected Elias Lindholm’s hard pass past Marc-Andre Fleury.
After Blake Coleman tied it from a goalmouth scramble at 1:37, the Flames moved in front at 3:11 when Tyler Toffoli got a piece of Andersson’s heavy slapshot from the blue line.
“Getting frustrated is natural, but you’ve just got to go out there and do something about it,” Kadri said about the bad start. “I’m proud of the way we bounced back, especially the start of that second period. That was exactly what we want to see.”
After a seven-game stretch where the Flames’ power play was just 2-for-21, they’ve scored two goals in each of the past two games, going a combined 4-for-9 over that span.
“Finally, it’s nice to see a couple hit the back of the net, because that’s going to be crucial,” Kadri said. “You’re already seeing that the last couple games in getting us wins.”
Making his sixth start in the last eight games, Dan Vladar settled in after allowing two goals on the first three shots. He finished with 25 saves to improve to 5-4-1 on the season.
Calgary finished 4-1 on its homestand with Vladar in net for all four victories. The Czech only made three starts at home all of last season.
Minnesota tied it at 15:45 of the third when Jon Merrill’s point shot deflected in off the stick of Flames defenceman Chris Tanev.
But just 12 seconds later, a Wild turnover behind their net ended up on Coleman’s stick and he set up Andersson, who cut across the crease and used his backhand to put the puck just inside the goalpost.
Lindholm chipped in with three assists for Calgary (13-10-3).
Kirill Kaprizov extended his goal streak to seven games for the Wild – tops in the league this season. Mason Shaw also scored for Minnesota (13-10-2), which had its four-game winning streak come to an end.
Kaprizov entered the game on an offensive tear with 19 points in his last dozen games. He extended his point streak to 13 games when he tipped in a Matt Dumba point shot just 1:27 into the game.
Both of Kaprizov’s streaks are franchise records.
“It’s a credit to my teammates that I play with. If it wasn’t for them, none of this would be possible, so thank you to them,” Kaprizov said. “Ultimately at the end of the day we want to win as a team. This is a team game and the win is more important than a personal record.”
Less than a minute after Kaprizov’s goal, the Wild broke out on a 3-on-1 with Shaw one-timing Connor Dewar’s cross-ice pass past Vladar.
“It’s likely the best start that we’ve had,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “They weren’t in the hockey game. We were engaged, we were rolling our lines.”
But momentum started to turn when the Wild took four consecutive penalties.
“Even if they don’t score two power-play goals, we gave them momentum and we have to be accountable to stay out of the box,’ Evason added.
Marc-Andre Fleury had 22 saves for the Wild. His record fell to 9-6-1.
“I think we’ve got to find a way when we’re ahead to stay calm but still play with the pace (and) still be aggressive out there,” said Fleury. “Got to make a few saves, too, and help the guys out.”
BLOWN LEADS AND COMEBACKS
To lose a game in which they scored the first goal and led after the first period is a rarity for the Wild.
Minnesota entered the game with an 8-1-2 mark when scoring first and an 8-0-1 record when leading after 20 minutes.
Calgary improved to 4-6-1 when surrendering the first goal and 3-6-2 when trailing after the first period.
Wild: Head to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Friday.
Flames: Open a three-game road trip on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press