CALGARY — Ageless Calgary defenceman Mark Giordano continued his fine season on Wednesday night.
The 35−year−old had three assists as the Flames kept on rolling with a 5−3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Giordano has 43 points (six goals, 37 assists) in 43 games, which ties him for third in points among NHL defencemen.
“Just trying to put pucks on net, jump in when I can,” said Giordano, whose 303 career assists moves him past Joe Nieuwendyk and into fifth on the Flames all−time list. “Playing on a pretty good power play with pretty good players, trying to move the puck around to those guys and get it in their hands and when you do that with those types of players, they reward you.”
Giordano had the primary helper on both Elias Lindholm’s power−play goal in the second period, which broke a 2−2 tie, and Michael Frolik’s deflection and eventual game−winner halfway through the third, which made it 4−2.
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever met. I couldn’t be happier that I have a chance to play with him,” said Frolik about Giordano. “He’s been unbelievable, especially this year. He’s really driving the bus on the back end now.”
Special teams was a big factor for both teams. Calgary had killed off just 13 of its last 20 penalties while Colorado had been even worse, having given up eight goals on its previous 19 power plays against.
On Wednesday night, however, the Flames excelled while shorthanded, going 4 for 4, while the Avs gave up that important Lindholm goal on just two power plays against.
“Our PK, the role is to shut it down so I think we did a pretty good job of that and trying to halt their momentum,” said Flames centre Mark Jankowski, who had his seventh goal.
Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk, into an empty net, also scored for Calgary (28−13−4), which is 6−1−1 in its last eight. The Flames hold a two−point lead on Vegas atop the Pacific Division.
Red−hot Johnny Gaudreau had two assists to extend his point streak to six games.
Nathan MacKinnon extended his point streak to eight games with a goal for Colorado (20−16−8). Erik Johnson and Mikko Rantanen also scored as the slumping Avalanche dropped to 1−6−2 in their last nine.
“We’re not finding ways to win right now, whether it’s a save at a key time or a goal at a key time,” said Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, who fired 12 shots on David Rittich, the most shots by an NHL player in a game this season. “We’re generating plenty of chances and we allowed only 16 shots. When you do that you’ve got to be able to win.”
Off to an 0−2−0 start, Colorado continues its five−game all−Canada road trip on Saturday night in Montreal.
“That’s a little bit disheartening, playing two games like that on the road back−to−back against two really good teams and coming out with nothing because I thought for the most part that we were really good tonight,” said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. “It feels like defensively we have to play a perfect game right now because we just aren’t getting any puck luck at the other end.”
It was another strong outing for Flames starter David Rittich. The busier of the two goaltenders, he had 32 stops to improve to 16−4−3.
“He was awesome, again.,” said Giordano. “It’s the timely saves that are huge, to be honest. When you’re tied or you’re up one and he’s keeping that same score line. He’s been doing it all year and again, another big night by him.”
Varlamov, only tested 15 times, fell to 11−9−5.
Calgary got off to a fast start when Backlund buried James Neal’s rebound at 5:34. Jankowski made it 2−0 five minutes later.
But the Avalanche got back to even before the period ended on goals by Rantanen and Johnson.
“We have to help them more,” said Rantanen, defending Colorado’s goaltending. “It’s been our problem lately. Not just the last two games, even before that. We score enough goals to win, but we can’t give up seven or five goals every night.”