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FLAMES RED HOT

by AARON VICKERS @aavickers / calgaryflames.com

TAMPA BAY - Sean Monahan is the fastest Flame to 100.

Monahan scored his 100th NHL goal, and Brian Elliott made 23 saves to help Calgary to a 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Thursday.

"It was nice to get it and nice to get it in a win," Monahan said. "That makes it better. That's a big win here. Second game of the trip. We've got to continue to build some momentum and keep it going."

Video: CGY@TBL: Monahan nets his 100th career goal

Dougie Hamilton  had a goal and two assists and Mikael Backlund  also scored for the Flames, who move four points clear of the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Los Angeles has one game in hand. 

"They know at this time of year it's going to be a grind," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "It's going to be a real north-south game. I thought we played a lot faster in the last few games. There's certainly a build-up of belief starting in that locker-room."

The victory also pushes Calgary to a 7-2-1 record in their past 10 outings.

"It's really how everyone's playing together," Elliott said. "When people are on the same page and talking to each other and supporting each other out there it just makes the game a little easier.

"We did a good job of doing that tonight. That's the momentum that you're building. The chemistry."

Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov scored, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves for the Lightning.

Monahan gave the Flames a 2-1 lead at 6:25 of the second period when he tipped Johnny Gaudreau's backhand from the high slot behind Vasilevskiy to net his team-leading 20th goal of the season, and No. 100 in his NHL career.

At 22 years and 134 days, Monahan is the youngest player in franchise history to hit 100 goals. Joe Nieuwendyk held the previous record at 22 years, 185 days.

Video: Monahan says it's great to score 100 in a win

"That's pretty cool," Monahan said. "He probably played less games, but he's a great player and someone I actually idolized as a kid. That's pretty cool to be recognized there with him."

Only five active NHL players have reached 100 goals at a younger age than Monahan: Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr, Alexander Ovechkin and Patrick Kane.

 "I think the one thing that stands out for me is his shot," Gulutzan said. "He's got a great release. He doesn't need a lot of time and space to get it off, which all good goal-scorers have that same pattern with how they shoot the puck. They don't need much space.

"And the other thing with Mony is he's got a real nose for the areas, whether it be in the crease or just above the crease to get a shot or around the net. He's got a real nose for where the puck's going to go or be. That hockey IQ is a big part of it."

Hamilton scored on a wrist shot that beat Vasilevskiy short side at 17:02 the third period to push Calgary's lead to 3-1, and Kucherov scored on the power play at 18:47 to make it 3-2.

Video: CGY@TBL: Frolik notches 300th point on Hamilton's PPG

Elliott stopped Victor Hedman's point shot with 17.2 seconds remaining to preserve the win.

"We talked about being patiently persistent and not really giving up on the game plan if things don't go your way right away," Elliott said. "I think that's the main thing that you start believe that this style of play can beat anybody in the league and if you stick to it and you limit your mistakes then you usually come out on top."

Namestnikov opened the scoring 6:17 into the first period, but Backlund erased the deficit at 5:04 of the second period when he tipped Mark Giordano's point shot by Vasilevskiy to earn his third goal in the past two games and his team-leading 42nd point.

Video: CGY@TBL: Elliott extends the pad, robs Point in front

NOTES: Elliott has started each of the past five games for the Flames, and is 6-1-1 in his past eight outings. …Newcomer Michael Stone led Calgary with three blocked shots. He also led the Flames with four hits and played 17:46. …Hamilton had a team-high five shots. …Forward Freddie Hamilton , and defencemen Jyrki Jokipakka and Dennis Wideman were healthy scratches for Calgary. …

UP NEXT: The Flames play the second of back-to-back games against the Florida Panthers on Friday (5:30 p.m. MT, SN, SNW).

 

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