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FUN IN THE SUN

Flames complete sweep in state of Florida with 4-2 win over Panthers

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

The Flames continue to roll on the road.
 
Chad Johnson made 36 saves and Troy Brouwer had a goal and an assist to help Calgary to a 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Friday.
 
"For us, I think we're just finding our game," Johnson said. "We want to be as consistent as possible. That's what it comes down to. We've had our highs and our lows. That's going to happen with a young group and a new coach. Now you're seeing that consistency and trust in our system. 
 
"I'm sure there will be some hiccups but I think we know how to regroup now and stay within our systems."
 
Sam Bennett, Mikael Backlund and Deryk Engelland also scored while Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik each had two assists for the Flames, who have won three straight games and are 8-2-1 in the past 11 contests.

"I think that over the last little bit, our goalies have given us a lot of belief," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I think we've executed at a pretty good level, which has made guys feel pretty good. Everyone's starting to contribute on any given night and that builds confidence. 
 
"That builds belief."
 
The win moves Calgary one point clear of the Nashville Predators for the first wildcard into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, and six points up on the Los Angeles Kings. Both of Calgary's rivals have played two fewer games. 
 
"I think we're starting to believe more in each other in this group," Backlund said. "I think that's why we were a little more inconsistent before. Not that we were unsure about ourselves, but it's not the same confidence going into games as lately and winning a few games helps with that. You get that boost and you get that confident swagger. 
 
"We've just been rolling with it."
 
Roberto Luongo made 24 saves for Florida while Nick Bjugstad and Aleksander Barkov scored the Panthers' goals.

Video: CGY@FLA: Bennett buries a big rebound in front
 
Bjugstad opened the scoring 4:54 into the game but Bennett scored his first goal in 11 games to make it 1-1 just 4:03 later. Bennett converted on a rebound created when Luongo stopped Michael Stone's initial point shot. 
 
"It was big for us to give up the first goal and respond to that," Johnson said. "It shows the growth in our group."
 
Backlund scored at 10:16 to make it 2-1. Tkachuk had an assist on the play to join Dan Quinn, Robert Reichel and Jarome Iginla as the fourth teenage rookie in Flames franchise history to record 40-plus points in a season, according to TSN.
 
Tkachuk earned his second straight assist when Engelland slid the puck over the line in a crease scramble at 13:51, and Barkov trimmed Calgary's lead to 3-2 with 2:40 remaining in the first.

Video: CGY@FLA: Brouwer nets Stajan's perfect saucer pass
 
But Brouwer restored the two-goal cushion 6:19 into the second period when he redirected Matt Stajan's centring pass between Luongo's legs for his 10th goal. The Flames are just the third team this season, after the Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild, to have 10 different goalscorers in double digits.
  
Johnson made 14 third-period saves, including one on a one-timer from Keith Yandle with just over a minute remaining in regulation, to preserve the win.
 
"We weren't our best tonight … [Johnson] was," Gulutzan said. "I thought early we executed some good plays, which gave us the lead. But certainly once Chad settled in here in the second and third, he really took over the game for us. 
 
"Our goalie solidified the two points for us."
 
NOTES: Backlund has four goals in the past three games. …Kris Versteeg played in NHL game No. 600, and Alex Chiasson played in his 300th NHL game. …Stone led the Flames with three hits. Giordano paced the Flames with four blocked shots and 24:16 of ice time. …Forward Freddie Hamilton and defencemen Jyrki Jokipakka and Dennis Wideman were healthy scratches for Calgary.
 
UP NEXT: The Flames complete their road trip on Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes (1 p.m. MST; SNW, SN960).

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