Flames keep playoff hopes alive in win vs Flyers

Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and two assists, leading the Calgary Flames to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

CALGARY — Johnny Gaudreau took over the NHL’s rookie scoring lead Thursday night and helped the Calgary Flames pick up an important two points in the process.

Gaudreau, 21, scored his 20th goal of the season and added two assists to lead Calgary to 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Playing left wing on Calgary’s No. 1 line with sophomore Sean Monahan and veteran Jiri Hudler, Gaudreau’s fourth three-point game of the season– against the team he grew up cheering for as a kid, no less– moved him one point ahead of Nashville’s Filip Forsberg.

"I want to be one of the top rookies in the league and as the team’s playing well and we’re playing well, we’re in the playoff race, everything seems to be going our way right now. Hopefully we can keep it going," said Gaudreau.

What’s more impressive is Gaudreau’s success comes after a rocky start to the season in which he was held without a point in the season’s first five games and then was a healthy scratch in game six.

"He just keeps getting better and I think we’re far from seeing the end of it," said Flames coach Bob Hartley. "He has this ability to get open, he’s very skilled and he wants to learn and is a great competitor. You put all of this together, you have quite a player."

After Philadelphia cut Calgary’s 2-0 lead in half with nine seconds left in the second period, Gaudreau helped restore the two-goal cushion 3:09 into the third by setting up Monahan’s team-leading 28th goal. It was the 50th goal of the 20-year-old’s young NHL career.

Four minutes later with Calgary on a two-man advantage, Gaudreau was set up perfectly by Hudler to make it 4-1.

"We were making plays, whether we were 5-on-5, 4-on-4, power play. It’s key to get goals on the power play to win games. I think that’s what we did tonight," said Gaudreau.

Dennis Wideman and TJ Brodie also scored for Calgary (39-27-5), which had lost back-to-back games.

After beginning the night outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Flames moved one point ahead of Los Angeles to take over third place in the Pacific Division. Calgary is one point back of second place Vancouver.

Claude Giroux scored the lone goal for Philadelphia (29-29-15).

"A couple power-play goals to get a big lead. We tried to battle back and we had our chances but we’ve got to find a way to not trail early in games like that," said Giroux.

With the game scoreless late in the second period and badly in need of a spark, it finally came courtesy of a bad turnover by Flyers defenceman Luke Schenn.

Schenn’s errant pass was intercepted at centre ice by Wideman, who worked a give-and-go with Hudler that ended with Wideman sending a wrist shot through the pads of Steve Mason.

The Flames made it 2-0 less than two minutes later when Brodie’s long wrist shot eluded a screened Mason, who was replaced after that goal by Ray Emery.

The Flyers are 10 points back of a playoff spot in the East.

"At the end of the day, it all comes down to pride a little bit and obviously we didn’t have much of that tonight," said Luke Schenn. "Didn’t put enough on the line tonight. You get that type of result. It’s embarrassing for all of us obviously."

Karri Ramo made 26 saves for the Flames to improve to 14-8-1. Mason was tagged with the loss to fall to 14-17-10.

Notes– Vincent Lecavalier was a healthy scratch for Philadelphia as the team dressed seven defencemen… Matt Read is away from the Flyers to be with his wife, who just gave birth to a baby girl… It was the Flyers first loss in Calgary since March 22, 2001. They had won five straight…. Calgary scored first for just the fourth time in their last 17 games.

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