Flames rediscover offensive swagger to break ‘curse’ with rare Anaheim win

Mark Jankowski and Mikael Backlund both scored two goals as the Calgary Flames routed the Anaheim Ducks 6-0.

ANAHEIM – The Calgary Flames have found a solution to The Honda Center Curse: Goals.

By piecing together a bunch of em’ early Thursday, the Flames found a way to leave with just their third win here in the last 16 years.

That’s not a typo.

A 6-0 win over a rebuilding Ducks squad to wrap up a successful road trip marked the first time since 1996 the Flames won back-to-back games here.

“I guess the curse hopefully is over now,” smiled Flames goalie Cam Talbot, who backstopped the Flames to both those rare wins this year.

“(The curse) was brought up before the last game that we played here. That’s a pretty crazy stat.”

Another interesting stat points out Talbot’s 44 saves are the most by a Flames goalie in a shutout since the Flames relocated to Calgary.

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It was kind of overkill then that the Flames scored the most goals they’ve ever put up in Anaheim.

Guess again if you think any of the Flames veterans took pity on the Ducks.

“We’ve had some tough games in this building and I’ve been part of a lot of them, so definitely it feels good to win,” beamed Mikael Backlund, who led the charge with two goals, including a short-handed breakaway conversion that came in the second period of a game that saw the Flames score four in the opening period for the first time since December 2018.

“That was a great period by us. We talked about it on the bus (from Los Angeles to Anaheim following Wednesday’s loss to the Kings) about how one more big game on this road trip gets us six of eight points. That’s big for this group because there are a lot of teams fighting for spots.”

The Flames’ sudden ability to find the net on this four-game trip landed them chest-puffing victories over the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and the Ducks.

At the tail end of a season in which the Flames have struggled to find the net like last year, the lads scored six goals in all three of those wins.

An inordinate amount of them came from their depth charges as part of a renewed belief in themselves that coincides with the return of Elias Lindholm to the top unit.

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Because of the move, Backlund’s experiment on the wing ended with him returning to centre the second line.

Of late: Backlund’s two goals give him four markers and four assists during a five-game scoring streak – his best stretch of the season.

Lindholm’s point streak hit nine with his third goal in the last two games, pushing his totals to five goals and five helpers in that span. His 25 goals put him just two goals short of his career-best 27 from last year.

Fourth-line centre Mark Jankowski has bounced back from being scoreless his first 38 games to potting five in his last seven, including two Thursday.

“We got a lot of depth scoring on this trip,” said Talbot.

“Everyone contributed throughout the lineup. Our defence chipped in with some goals, our fourth line got a bunch in San Jose the other night. Whenever you’re getting contributions like that you’re going to win more often than not.”

The win comes one night after the Flames picked up their third loss of the year at the hands of lowly Los Angeles.

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It came two nights after the Honda Center witnessed Jay Bouwmeester’s cardiac episode on the bench, which forced the game’s postponement and prompted Dallas Eakins to have a long discussion with his Ducks players Thursday morning about the trauma they endured.

Thursday’s game opened with all the players on both teams standing on the blue line as a show of support for the Blues defenceman, who is still undergoing tests to determine the cause of his collapse.

After that, the Flames wasted little time doing what they’ve struggled to do this season.

Goals by Lindholm, Backlund and Oliver Kylington had the Flames up 3-0 before the 14-minute mark, followed by Jankowski’s first in the final minutes of the opening frame.

The joke afterward was that three of the team’s four Swedes scored in the first, begging for the lads to question why Rasmus Andersson couldn’t pull his weight.

“We all scored — he’s Danish,” shrugged Backlund, taking a great swipe at Andersson.

“So it’s all good.”

It sure is these days for the Flames, whose 21 goals in four outings suggest they have their swagger back.

Backlund finished his lengthy breakaway late in the second, setting up a pedestrian third period in which Jankowski scored again and Talbot preserved the shutout.

The Flames return home for a date against the BlackHawks on Saturday as part of a three-game homestand that also sees them welcome the Ducks and Boston Bruins.

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