CALGARY — Matthew Tkachuk scored his 31st and 32nd goals in piling up his first career five-point game on Friday to lead the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 victory over the New York Rangers.
Tkachuk had 10 points (six goals, four assists) on the Flames’ perfect 3-0-0 homestand that moved Calgary back into first in the Pacific Division ahead of San Jose. The hot streak comes after an extended cold stretch in which he had just six points in the previous 18 games.
Using up its game in hand on San Jose, Calgary moved one point ahead of the Sharks with 11 games to go. The Flames also lead the Western Conference, nine points up on the Winnipeg Jets, who Calgary will play on Saturday night.
Johnny Gaudreau, Garnet Hathaway and Michael Frolik also scored for Calgary (44-20-7).
Neal Pionk scored for the New York (28-30-13), which is winless in its last six on the road. The Rangers wrap up a four-game road trip (0-1-2) in Minnesota on Saturday.
Tied 1-1 after 20 minutes, Tkachuk gave the Flames the lead for good 2:56 into the second when he deflected Mark Giordano’s point shot past Alexandar Georgiev.
Just over a minute later, Tkachuk earned his 100th career assist, setting up Hathaway in front to make it 3-1.
It was all the offensive support needed by David Rittich, who turned aside 24 shots to improve to 25-7-5.
Georgiev made 27 saves to fall to 10-12-3.
Gaudreau opened the scoring 10 minutes into the first period on a beautiful pass by Tkachuk.
Looking more like a football quarterback, Tkachuk lobbed a 95-foot pass from deep in his own end that landed on the stick of Gaudreau, springing him on a breakaway. Coming off a three-goal, six-point night on Tuesday, Gaudreau remained hot, making a nice move before slipping the puck through Georgiev’s pads for his team-leading 34th goal.
The Rangers tied it 70 seconds later when Ryan Strome found Pionk coming late and the defenceman wired a slapshot inside the post.
The Flames put the game away in the third period. Tkachuk’s third primary assist, as he set up Frolik in front, made it 4-1 at 5:12. He rounded out the scoring by converting Mikael Backlund’s pass at 9:49.
Notes: Sean Monahan (undisclosed) did not play the last two periods… Tkachuk has 73 points on the season, joining Gaudreau, Monahan and Elias Lindholm in the 70-point club. The last time Calgary had four 70-point scorers was 2006-97 (Jarome Iginla 94, Alex Tanguay 81, Daymond Langkow 77, Kristian Huselius 77).
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press