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3M LINE LEADING THE WAY DURING RECENT RUN

Backlund, Tkachuk and Frolik have combined for 17 points in the last five games

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

With a 4-0-1 record in their last five games, the Flames are hitting their stride at the right time and piling up points as they push to solidify a postseason position.

After Friday's 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers, they moved into the first Wildcard spot in the Western Conference with 68 points and are now just six points back of the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers, who hold the second and third positions in the Pacific Division.

One of the biggest factors in their success? The 3M Line.

Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik, or the 3M Line as they have become known as on Twitter thanks to @FlamesNation, have combined for an impressive six goals and 17 points over the past five games and have put 35 shots on net during that stretch - the highest totals for any of the Flames' lines.

Dig a little deeper and their run becomes more striking.

Their five-on-five shot attempt percentages lead all Flames forwards who have played more than a single game over that stretch: Backlund's sits at 55.24%, Frolik trails him at 55.14% and Tkachuk's shot attempt percentage is 54.72% over his past five skates.

Their five-on-five shot percentage? Just as noteworthy. Tkachuk (21.2%) leads the charge in this category, with Frolik (17.1%) and Backlund (16.7%) trailing him.

Video: CGY@FLA: Backlund finishes give-and-go with Tkachuk

Individually, they're having success in variety of categories as well.

Tkachuk leads all Flames skaters with 6.14 points-per-60 minutes, 5.26 assists-per-60 minutes, five primary helpers, and six takeaways since Feb. 15. The rookie also continues to draw penalties on a regular basis - he's averaged 3.51 penalties drawn per 60 minutes of play over the past five skates.

Backlund's 2.77 goals-per-60 minutes is the highest total since Feb. 15 and he's led all forwards with 13:57 of short-handed ice time.

Frolik is one of just three skaters with a power play point (an assist) over the past five games, putting in 8:59 of ice time with the man advantage. He's averaged 0.80 points-per-game since Feb. 15, an increase from his 0.56 points-per-game average over the course of the year.

Video: PHI@CGY: Tkachuk cashes in on Backlund's sharp feed

It is also key to note they have managed these offensive highs while the majority of their zone starts have come in their own end. Backlund and Frolik have had 34 defensive zone starts in the past five games and Tkachuk has had 33, more than any other Calgary forward. On the flip side, they have had just a combined 29 offensive zone starts since Feb. 15.

The 3M Line's recent streak should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched the line over the course of the year.

The trio has been the team's most consistent, dominant trio throughout the 2016-17 campaign and have 120 combined points on the year.

Backlund leads the team with 44 points and Tkachuk sits second with 41 points, which ranks him fifth amongst NHL rookies in scoring. With 35 points, Frolik has already surpassed his 2015-16 total and is seven points shy of his career-high 42, set back in the 2013-14 campaign.

Video: CGY@PIT: Frolik finishes a gorgeous tic-tac-toe play

Their SAT percentages? Also top notch. Tkachuk leads all Flames at 57.06%. Frolik is right behind him at 56.02% and Backlund's SAT% sits at 54.84 through his 62 games played.

Just like over their recent five-game run, they have been tasked with tough zone starts all year and have thrived. Backlund has had 327 defensive zone starts, Frolik's season total sits at 322 and Tkachuk has started 296 shifts in his own zone - the highest totals amongst Flames forwards. 

"One of the top lines in the league, for sure, both ends," Mark Giordano said last month. "But we've been saying that all year.

"Can't say much more. The goals they've been scoring are huge. Backs has taken that step up to a No.1 centreman and run with it.

"They get rewarded for defensive play, which is what we want to be all about. They get above pucks, make good plays and good decisions.

"It's been fun to watch."

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