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Three-point nights for Gaudreau, Tkachuk keeps Flames alive in playoff race

CALGARY — It’s not a position the Calgary Flames wanted to be in, but they find themselves cheering for their provincial rivals for the remainder of the season.

CALGARY — It’s not a position the Calgary Flames wanted to be in, but they find themselves cheering for their provincial rivals for the remainder of the season.  

The Flames kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 6-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

Now they need the Edmonton Oilers to beat the Montreal Canadiens in regulation time twice to end the year – on Monday and again on Wednesday – for a chance at the playoffs.

The Flames, who are eight points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot in the North Division, also need to win their remaining four games against the division-worst Canucks.

“We put ourselves in a terrible position, to be honest,” said Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, who scored and added two assists versus Ottawa. “We just have to win and pray. That’s all we can do tomorrow (Monday).

“Never thought we’d root for Edmonton, but we need them to win these.”

Johnny Gaudreau, who also scored and had two helpers on Sunday, echoed the sentiment.

“I’ll check out the scores,” said Gaudreau. “Probably won’t watch it. Just sit there and hope Connor (McDavid) can do his thing.”

Knowing they were facing elimination, the Flames (23-26-3) played desperate hockey from the opening faceoff and got goals from six different players. Jacob Markstrom made 19 saves for his 19th win.

On a fast break in the first period, Gaudreau took a stretch pass from Mark Giordano right on the tape and slid a delicate backhanded shot between Anton Forsberg’s pads while falling to the ice at 10:39 for his fourth goal in his last six games.

Meanwhile, the Senators (22-28-5), who were coming off a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, could not generate any offence in the first. They went more than 15 minutes without firing a puck on Markstrom and were outshot 10-3.

“First period was better,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter. “We didn’t give up many chances in the first period. That’s the way you've got to play. Our team has to play like that to win.”

Calgary opened the floodgates in the second period, scoring three more times by the halfway mark.

Mikael Backlund put the home team up 2-0 just 17 seconds into the middle frame to cap off a good cycle play in the offensive zone.

The Flames added to their lead at 4:38 when a patient Gaudreau found Tkachuk in the slot for his first goal since Apr. 2. 

At 10:05, Calgary scored a fourth goal on its 23rd shot when Michael Stone’s slap shot from the point blasted past Forsberg, chasing the Sens netminder from the game.

“They played a playoff game,” said Sens coach D.J. Smith of the opposition. “They gave us no room. They know that they can’t afford to give up a single point or they’re out. They jumped all over a team that played last night.

“Tonight we just had too many guys not going.”

Filip Gustavsson, who stopped 27 pucks on Saturday, came off the bench and made 11 saves in relief.

That goaltender change may have briefly sparked the visitors as Josh Norris scored a minute later on a beautiful backhand pass from Drake Batherson.

But the Flames added two more in the third period to put the game out of reach. Dillon Dube sealed it on the rush with a one-timer at 6:45 before Giordano made it 6-1 at 13:53.

Notes: The Senators lost in regulation time for just the second time in 11 games. … Calgary finished 3-5-1 against Ottawa this season. ... The Sens saw their three-game win streak come to an end.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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