Flames keep playoff hopes alive in win over Canucks

The Calgary Flames overcame an early deficit and kept their playoff hopes alive by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Friday.

Calgary defenceman TJ Brodie continued his red-hot play of late with three assists on Friday night to lead the Flames to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Two of Brodie’s assists came in the second period as Calgary scored three unanswered goals to take a 4-2 lead. The 25-year-old has 11 points in the last eight games, all of them helpers.

Brodie’s 32 assists on the season are also a career-best, surpassing the 30 from a year ago.

Joe Colborne, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik each had a goal and an assist to lead the offence for Calgary (26-28-3). Mark Giordano and Josh Jooris also scored as the Flames snapped a three-game losing streak and kept their faint playoff hopes alive.

Calgary is nine points back of the Colorado Avalanche and the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Adam Cracknell and Jake Virtanen scored for Vancouver (22-24-12). The Canucks have lost four in a row, each by the identical score of 5-2.

Calgary tied it 2-2 at 2:07 of the second. From a mad scramble beside the goal crease, Backlund chipped the puck over Jakob Markstrom. After scoring five goals in the season’s first 50 games, Backlund has five goals in his last seven games.

The go-ahead goal at 5:34 came off the stick of Frolik. Set up in the slot by Brodie, Frolik’s shot changed directions off the skate of Canucks defenceman Matt Bartkowski.

The Flames capped off a big middle period on Giordano’s 14th goal with 25 seconds remaining. Brodie, his defence partner, had the set-up.

Making his fourth straight start since Karri Ramo’s season-ending knee injury, Jonas Hiller won for the first time. He had given up 12 goals in the first three games but bounced back with a 26-save effort.

Markstrom had 28 stops.

Down 1-0 after the first period, Vancouver tied it at 10:41 of the first on a great effort by Jannik Hansen. While being checked by Brodie, Hansen reached back and poked the puck to Cracknell, who sent a shot past Hiller.

The Canucks took the lead five minutes later when Virtanen also beat Hiller upstairs with a wicked shot from the top of the face-off circle.

Notes: Sam Bennett played his natural position of centre for the first time since Oct. 31. He’s spent all but a handful of games on left wing… Calgary D Tyler Wotherspoon made his season debut. He was recalled from Stockton (AHL) to replace Ladislav Smid (upper body), who was placed on IR.

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