The Buzzer: Flames stay alive on light Sunday in NHL

The Buzzer: Flames stay alive on light Sunday in NHL
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3 Stars for the NHL on Sunday

1. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

If Johnny Gaudeau is playing his final games for the Flames, then at least he’s going out on a high note. Even if it’s almost certainly not enough to drag the Flames into the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Gaudreau scored a pretty goal about halfway through a first period the Flames dominated, but only ended up leading 1-0. He’d end Sunday with one of the best performances on a light night in the NHL (1G, 2A for three points).

Again, Gaudreau’s been red-hot lately. After this three-point outburst, Gaudreau’s scored 15 points in his last 12 games. Clearly, Gaudreau bounced back from a tough March where he was limited to seven points in 15 games.

This hot streak might sneak up on some around the league. It makes you wonder: will the Flames be able to find a way to avoid selling low if they do trade Gaudreau? If the deals aren’t there, what does the future hold?

He’s enjoyed a heck of a career, yet there’s definitely a lingering question of what could have been.

2. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames

Matthew Tkachuk hasn’t enjoyed the same resurgence as Johnny Gaudreau lately. Maybe he’s gaining some favor with Darryl Sutter, but that might be a baby steps process.

(Perhaps that will pay off in 2021-22, assuming both Tkachuk and Sutter return to the Flames? It could be a messy offseason, even with less obvious choices than Gaudreau’s seemingly murky future.)

Really, Tkachuk and Gaudreau are 1A and 1B for the top star for Sunday night in the NHL. Both players generated one-goal, two-assist nights. Each collected a single primary and secondary assist apiece.

Tkachuk fired four shots on goal, delivered two hits, and matched Gaudreau with a +2 rating.

Consider Mark Giordano an honorable mention, as he scored a goal and an assist, and might have generated more if he didn’t hit a post or two.

3. Kevin Lankinen, Chicago Blackhawks

Thanks to a rough April (3-5-1, brutal .871 save percentage), Kevin Lankinen went from a potential Calder Trophy to more of a deep cut.

Even so, Lankinen performed admirably in four of five months. That’s not bad for a goalie who was probably anonymous even to most Blackhawks fans before the 2020-21 season.

Perhaps Sunday will serve as a reminder that he enjoyed a mostly-impressive debut season in the NHL. Lankinen made 37 saves as the Blackhawks beat a Stars team that was maybe expressing its frustration with being eliminated from playoff contention.

In addition to Lankinen, Alex DeBrincat continued his strong season with two goals, pushing his total to 31. Patrick Kane also collected two assists.

NHL suspends Patrick Maroon

The NHL suspended Lightning forward Patrick Maroon for one game.

Highlights from Sunday’s NHL games

With only two games on the docket, why not just enjoy full highlights from each game?

Watch as the Blackhawks frustrated the Stars:

While the Flames dominated a Senators team that a) has been hot lately but b) was closing off a back-to-back set. In other words, Calgary did what they should have.

Sunday’s NHL scores

Flames 6, Senators 1
Blackhawks 4, Stars 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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