UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Mikael Backlund and Rasmus Andersson scored nearly three minutes apart early in the third period, leading the Calgary Flames to a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night for their season-high sixth straight win.
Mathew Tkachuk also scored and Elias Lindholm had two assists for Pacific Division- and Western Conference-leading Calgary, which won both matchups between the first-place teams in a seven-day stretch. Mike Smith finished with 26 saves to improve to 5-0-1 in his last six starts, including a 4-2 win over the Islanders at home last Wednesday.
Josh Bailey scored for New York, and Robin Lehner stopped 24 shots. The Islanders, 1-2-1 in their last four, began the day two points ahead of Washington atop the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals beat Ottawa 7-2 Tuesday night, but the Islanders held onto first place because they have played two fewer games than Washington.
Backlund put the Flames ahead 2-1 at 3:15 of the third, beating Lehner on the blocker side for his 17th of the season.
Andersson beat Lehner through the five-hole for just his second of the season to give Calgary a two-goal lead at 6:12.
The Islanders had the puck in the offensive zone plenty of times in the third period, but the Flames limited the bulk of New York’s shot on the perimeter. Smith denied Anders Lee’s tip try midway through the period, and stopped Cizikas from between the circles with 2:47 remaining.
New York pulled Lehner with just under two minutes left, but was initially slow to get an extra attacker on the ice and then was whistled for too many men.
Tkachuk got the Flames on the scoreboard first, sliding the puck back between his legs and lifting it into the top left corner on a power play for his 25th at 2:57 of the second. It was his first goal in 15 games.
Bailey beat Smith through the five-hole from the right side on a 2-on-1 with Valtteri Filppula for his 14th to tie it at 7:39.
The Islanders, outshot 6-1 in the period before Bailey’s goal, controlled the play for a large chunk of time. New York had 11 straight shots on goal, including five during one power play, as Calgary went more than eight minutes without an attempt.
The Flames outshot the Islanders 9-5 in the scoreless first period, with neither team mustering many good chances.
NOTES: New York F Andrew Ladd and D Thomas Hickey were activated off long-term IR. Ladd was out since Nov. 13 with a lower-body injury, and Hickey had not played since Dec. 17 with an upper-body injury. With the Islanders standing pat at the trade deadline, both coach Barry Trotz and president/general manager Lou Lamoriello believe the two players can provide a boost. “It’d be pretty tough to add those two type of players at the trade deadline,” Lamoriello said. … Ladd had an assist on Bailey’s goal. … D Scott Mayfield was a scratch to make room for Hickey. Mayfield had played in 59 straight games. … Gaudreau had an assist on Backlund’s goal, reaching 50 assists and 80 points for the second straight season. Gaudreau had career highs of 60 assists and 84 points a year ago. … The Flames are now outscoring opponents 93-49 in the third period this season.
Flames: At New Jersey on Wednesday night.
Islanders: Host former captain John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
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Vin A. Cherwoo, The Associated Press