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Mikael Backlund can’t stop scoring

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Mikael Backlund scored for the fifth consecutive game, leading the Calgary Flames to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Alex Chiasson had a goal and an assist and Kris Versteeg and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary. Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Sean Monahan had two assists each.

Brian Elliott‘s bid for his first shutout of the season ended when Patrick Wiercioch scored with 1:25 left in the third period. Elliott finished with 17 saves to win his fifth straight start and improve to 8-9-1.

Calvin Pickard stopped 33 shots for the Avalanche, who have lost five straight and 10 of 11.

Backlund made it seven goals in his last five games with 2:40 left in the second period for a 2-0 lead. Giordano’s shot was stopped by Pickard but the rebound popped into the slot where Backlund buried his team-leading 12th of the season.

It is the longest goal streak for the Flames since Curtis Glencross scored in seven consecutive games from Feb. 27 to March 11, 2012.

Versteeg got the Flames on the scoreboard with 4:35 left in the first as his shot from the slot caromed in off Fedor Tyutin‘s skate 9 seconds into Calgary’s first power play.

Just 43 seconds after Chiasson made it 3-0 with 6:35 left in the third, Calgary made it three power play goals when Gaudreau faked out Pickard and stuffed the puck inside the goal post.

Calgary’s power play has been on a real roll the last five weeks. Ranked 30th in the NHL at the end of November at 10.1 percent (8 for 79), it has been the best in the NHL since that point, operating at 35.7 percent (20 for 56).

Colorado’s best spurt came midway through the second period while down 1-0 when they had a pair of 2-on-1s just minutes apart. But neither resulted in a shot. Mikael Grigorenko fired Joe Colborne‘s set-up wide on the first. Then, Mikko Rantanen fired a shot off the post after a nice pass from Nathan MacKinnon.

NOTES: Backlund’s goal was his 200th NHL point. … Backlund ties Dallas’ Patrick Eaves and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for the second-longest goal-scoring streak this season. Nashville’s James Neal had a six-game run in November. … Freddie Hamilton drew into the Flames’ lineup for the first time since Dec. 2. … Since his opening-game hat trick, Avs forward Joe Colborne has gone 29 games without a goal.

UP NEXT

Avalanche: Host the New York Islanders on Friday night to start a four-game homestand.

Flames: At Vancouver on Friday night to start a home-and-home set on consecutive nights.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?

Hurricanes’ Lack taken off on stretcher after collision on Red Wings’ OT goal

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The Carolina Hurricanes fell short of a win on Monday, but their thoughts likely revolve around the health of goalie Eddie Lack instead.

Lack was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a collision during Andreas Athanasiou‘s game-winning goal in overtime. Officials reviewed that the goal counted, giving the Red Wings a 4-3 overtime victory against Carolina.

While it’s been a tough overall season for Hurricanes goalie, Lack has been an integral part of Carolina’s push for a postseason spot. PHT will keep an eye out for updates regarding his condition after this scary collision.

The Red Wings stayed on the ice as Lack was taken off, a nice gesture after an unfortunate accident.

Drouin triggers second-period rally for Lightning vs. Blackhawks

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Just when you think it’s time to count the Tampa Bay Lightning out, they rally back.

It’s been happening overall in 2016-17, and that pattern carried over into Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Lightning decided to put Andrei Vasilevskiy back in the net in the second period after he gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame … and at first, that looked like a mistake that would do them in. Chicago went up 4-1 and things looked dire.

But, again, the Bolts followed the script when it comes to flipping the script, with Jonathan Drouin triggering a resounding rally in the second.

Droun’s first goal came 11:45 into the second period, followed about a minute later by an Anton Stralman tally. Less than four minutes later, Drouin hit the 20-goal mark with the 4-4 marker on the power play.

First, check out Drouin’s first goal, which began the rally:

Next, witness the 4-4 goal, also by Drouin:

And … just like that, the Lightning tied things up. Wow.

Apparently Drouin created more offense than just his two goals, too:

Impressive. Remember when he seemed like he was out the door last season? Now that feels like another reminder not to give up on this group, no matter how ugly things look at times.

Video will be added when available.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the (brief) hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Here’s the Jurco goal:

Patrick Kane‘s 2-1 goal might have hurt the most, actually, as it quickly dissolved a tying tally by Ondrej Palat:

Update: The Lightning decided to put Vasilevskiy back in net to begin the second period. Interesting.