Gaudreau, Backlund lead Flames past Predators in OT
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Johnny Gaudreau feels right at home in Calgary's Scotiabank Saddledome.
Gaudreau scored goals 10 seconds apart in the first period, then set up Mikael Backlund's overtime winner to lead the Flames to a 3-2 win on Wednesday night over the red-hot Nashville Predators.
''I just love playing in front of our fans,'' said Gaudreau, who snapped a rare four-game pointless drought. ''Whether we lose or win, they're proud of us. So for me, the best gift to give back to them in a losing season is work my hardest each night and show them some creativity and excitement.''
The winning goal came on a perfect 2-on-1 with Gaudreau patiently hanging onto the puck then setting up Backlund at the side of the net 1:12 into the extra period.
''There aren't too many guys like him in this league. He's definitely up there with Patrick Kane,'' Backlund said. ''He's having a dominant year, but those two guys are so quick in tight with the stick, too. It's impressive to watch.''
Gaudreau now has a career-high 66 points, including 23 goals and 25 assists coming at home. The 48 points are tops in the NHL in home scoring, two more than Kane has in Chicago.
''It's always tougher on the road. That's why we call this home-ice advantage. You get the last change and you can put him against certain defensemen or certain centers,'' Flames coach Bob Hartley said.
Joni Ortio finished with 24 saves for the Flames, who improved to 1-0-1 on a six-game homestand.
Anthony Bitetto got his first career goal and Mike Fisher also scored for Nashville, which is 2-0-1 with two games remaining on a five-game road trip. Carter Hutton stopped 31 shots.
The Predators, who fell to 1-12 in overtime, extended their franchise record point streak to 14 games (9-0-5). They've also gone nearly two months since their last regulation loss on the road, going 11-0-3 in that stretch.
''You wish every game was perfect but it's not,'' Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ''The big thing is they found a way to turn it around in the third period. For me that speaks volumes to the guys in the room and their commitment to get a win.''
Gaudreau's opening score at 9:34 was not initially called a goal. Looking like his shot hit the goal post, play continued for a couple minutes with Calgary continuing to pour on the pressure when play was halted and the referees got confirmation the shot hit the back bar instead.
Off the ensuing faceoff and with the building still buzzing, Gaudreau took a pass from Sean Monahan, darted past Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis as he fell down at the blue line and fired a shot through Hutton's pads for his 26th goal.
Nashville broke Ortio's shutout at 7:44 of the third period on Bitetto's goal. Then, with Hutton on the bench for an extra skater, Fisher banged in a shot from a scramble to tie it with 1:18 remaining.
''The first two periods we didn't look very good. I thought they outplayed us. In the third we got a little bit of life,'' Fisher said.
NOTES: Ortio has given up two goals or fewer in six of his last seven starts. ... The Flames lost D TJ Brodie and C Sam Bennett to upper-body injuries in the second period. They are both day to day. ... Calgary D Mark Giordano played in his 577th career game, tying him with Joe Nieuwendyk for the most in franchise history. ... The Flames' record for fastest goals by one player is held by Lanny McDonald, who scored 6 seconds apart on March 22, 1984. ... Flames D Dennis Wideman served the 19th game of his 20-game suspension.