CALGARY — Flames rookie Mark Jankowski scored four times, including his first NHL hat trick, and the Flames finished a disappointing season on a high with a 7-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.
Calgary entered the night in a miserable funk offensively having mustered only nine goals over the previous nine games, eight of them losses. The seven goals was the club’s biggest offensive outburst since they beat St. Louis 7-4 on Nov. 13.
Jankowski was among the snake-bitten with just three points (two goals, one assist) in his last 18 games.
Spencer Foo, Garnet Hathaway and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for the Flames (37-35-10), who miss the playoffs for the seventh time in the past nine seasons. A big factor was Calgary’s 17-20-4 home record, their worst mark since 2000-01 (12-18-11).
Cody Eakin scored for Vegas (51-24-7), which will open the Stanley Cup playoffs on home ice after finishing first in the Pacific. The Golden Knights will play either Los Angeles or San Jose. Vegas is the first modern-era expansion team in any of the four North America pro spots to win its division.
Ten seconds after Gaudreau one-timed in a slick cross-ice pass from Michael Ferland at 4:03 of the first period, Jankowski scored on a nearly identical play with Gaudreau on the set-up.
Jankowski added his second, backhanding the puck in off the skate of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at 7:31 of the first.
Vegas got on the scoreboard 51 seconds into the second period. Making it 3-1, Eakin beat Jon Gillies through the pads after Gaudreau’s errant pass at the visitor’s blueline sprung him on a breakaway.
However, the Flames responded with three unanswered before the second intermission. Hathaway converted a tic-tac-toe passing play with fourth liners Curtis Lazar and Matt Stajan at 10:27.
Ninety seconds later, Foo made it two goals in as many games, firing a shot through Fleury’s pads off a set-up from Mikael Backlund.
Jankowski capped off his hat trick with a short-handed goal at 18:06, bringing over 100 hats raining down onto the ice.
The 23-year-old capped off his big night 1:32 into the third period, chipping his 17th of the season past Malcolm Subban on the power play.
It was the first goal on the man advantage for Calgary in 14 games, snapping a 0-for-35 skid.
Gillies had 26 stops to finish the season 3-5-1. The rookie’s best save came midway through the second when he whipped out his glove to rob Ryan Reaves on a rebound.
Fleury gave up six goals on 18 shots before being replaced to start the third period. He falls to 29-13-4. It was the most goals surrendered by Fleury since a 6-3 loss to Detroit on Oct. 13. Subban had 12 stops in relief.
Notes: Players from both teams along with the officials formed a circle at centre ice before the game for a moment of silence in tribute to the 15 people who lost their lives in the Humboldt Broncos bus accident. Afterwards, the Saddledome crowd broke into a chant of "Broncos, Broncos"… Both teams wore Humboldt Broncos decals on their helmet and the Flames announced they were donating their $4,055 half of the 50/50 prize pot to those affected by Friday’s tragedy.