Toronto Maple Leafs' TJ Brennan, left, checks Calgary Flames' Mikael Backlund, of Sweden, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, March 13, 2015, in Calgary, Alberta. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)
The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh
March 14, 2015

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Sean Monahan and his sizzling linemates are leading the Calgary Flames' improbable push toward the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Monahan scored his 26th and 27th goals in his first career three-point game, and the Flames rode a four-goal first period to a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.

The 20-year-old Monahan has 10 goals on 24 shots in his last 13 games to move into a tie for 11th place in the NHL in goals.

Linemates Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau each pitched in with one goal and two assists. The Flames top line has been hot lately with each player on a six-game point streak - combining for 16 goals and 30 points over that span.

''It's quite the chemistry they have between the three of them. Jiri's leading the pack, and the two kids are following,'' Flames coach Bob Hartley said. ''They're unbelievable. They're fun to coach and they're fun to watch. They're moving so well, they're creative and they're responsible.''

Gaudreau has 19 goals and 53 points, moving him into a tie for the rookie scoring lead with Nashville's Filip Forsberg.

''For me, it's the chemistry,'' the 21-year-old Gaudreau said. ''When you get to play with a player or a few players throughout the whole season, you just feel really comfortable with them on and off the ice.

''You learn more and more about them and where they're going to be at on the ice.''

The Flames are 5-0-1 in their last six games - all without captain Mark Giordano, who is out for the season because of a torn biceps tendon. Calgary moved into second place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of Vancouver, which has one game in hand.

Calgary also got goals from Drew Shore and Mikael Backlund.

Richard Panik and David Booth, with a pair, scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-16-2 on the road in 2015.

''I'm not going to sit here and make excuses,'' Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. ''Bottom line is we made more mistakes than them and they capitalized.

''There's no sugar-coating it or beating around it. It's pretty evident what happened.''

With the Flames leading 2-1 halfway through the first period, a potential momentum-changing moment in the game came in the form of a major penalty to Lance Bouma for a knee-on-knee hit on rookie Brandon Kozun.

It turned out to be a key moment, but not as one might expect.

In a three-minute span, Backlund and Monahan scored short-handed breakaway goals that made it 4-1 and fired up the sell-out crowd.

''It was an awful start,'' Maple Leafs coach Peter Horachek said. ''We had two scoring chances the whole first period, we had seven minutes in power plays, and they got two short-handed goals.

''They outworked us the whole period. Everything that happened to us, we did it to ourselves.''

The Flames opened a four-goal cushion 1:29 into the second when Monahan scored again. Booth got one back for Toronto at 4:56 but Hudler's deflection of Dennis Wideman's point shot on a power play at 8:16 restored the four-goal lead.

''Everyone's contributing offensively right now,'' Gaudreau said. ''Each game is crucial. We need every single point, if you look at the playoff race, and we came out flying.''

Booth's second of the night 29 seconds into the third gave the Maple Leafs a bit of life but they couldn't get another past Jonas Hiller, who finished with 25 stops to improve to 21-17-4.

Reimer made 22 saves for Toronto and dropped to 7-15.

NOTES: Backlund extended his point streak to a career-best seven games (3-4-7). ... The Flames are 13 games above .500 for the first time since January 5, 2010. ... During this 19-game road stretch for the Leafs, dating to the start of January, Toronto has led for only 25:43 out of 1,145 minutes. ... Nazem Kadri didn't play for Toronto. It was third game he missed after being suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons.

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