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RUNNIN' PAST THE DEVILS

Gaudreau has career-high six-point night in blowout win over the Devils

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

The revival was inevitable.

With the chatter some 10 hours earlier focused entirely on Johnny Gaudreau's rare scoring drought, it seemed he and long-time pal Sean Monahan knew something the rest of us didn't.

No panic.

No pressure.

A premonition, perhaps.

And as he - Johnny Hockey - has done so many times before, the most gifted of the Flames' many offensive talents proved first-hand how an inch in his favour can turn lethal for any and all onlookers.

What a statement.

By the time the third period rolled around, it wasn't a fair fight.

Gaudreau put the team on his back, recording his fifth-career hat trick as part of a career-high six-point game, as the Flames rallied with six in the third period to drown the visiting New Jersey Devils 9-4.

Video: NJD@CGY: Gaudreau finishes hat trick in the 3rd

Derek Ryan scored twice and added an assist, Monahan had a goal and three helpers, and Mark Giordano, Elias Lindholm and Sam Bennett also had multi-point efforts in the victory.

The top unit alone followed up the 3M Line's Magnificent Sunday with 14 combined points.

The win helps the Flames (43-20-7) keep pace with the San Jose Sharks and remain one point back for first in the Pacific Division.

"Everything was going in for us," a humble Gaudreau said in the Flames' locker-room post-game. "We were getting chances, getting looks. Good to get rewarded.

"I'm proud of our line."

The Flames entered the final frame trailing 4-3, but made extremely short work of the slim deficit.

Ryan got the ball rolling on a fortuitous bounce only 41 seconds in, filtering a shot from the right circle through traffic and watching it carom off a pair of sticks en route, arching over the head of the netminder and dropping softly into the twine.

Enter Gaudreau.

He put the Flames up 5-4 with a beauty on a penalty shot, and then set up Ryan for the all-important insurance marker on a 2-on-1 just 1:36 later - a sublime bit of surgical precision, triggering a tap-in for the one they call the 'Doc.'

But, somehow, the second encore was best.

He took a Rasmus Andersson feed in full flight, turned the corner on the flat-footed D, cut to the net and heaved it home on the backhand to record the hatty.

Gaudreau finished the night with a filthy dish to Monahan, and Matthew Tkachuk rounded out the scoring with his 30th of the year off a terrific setup from Oscar Fantenberg at 18:57.

Video: NJD@CGY: Gaudreau sets up Monahan for sixth point

"I don't know what play was the best of the three, but they were all elite," said head coach Bill Peters.

"Your best players have to be your best players. They're primarily guys that we count on each and every night to generate offence and they have to end up on the scoresheet, right? They have to. They were pushing and pressing a little bit, and to have a night like tonight, I think it's going to go a long way."

With a season-high nine shots on goal on Sunday against Vegas, he was due to break out. But even by his incredible lofty standards, this was on another level.

Gaudreau becomes the 11th player in franchise history and the first since Al MacInnis 25 years ago to record six points in a single game.

"Sometimes you're fighting the puck; sometimes you're feeling good, getting looks and making plays up and down the ice," Gaudreau said. "Our line was clicking tonight. We had some jump going in there from warmup and we came into the locker-room and knew were going to have a good night."

The Flames opened the scoring at 5:05 of the first. Lindholm gathered up the puck in his own zone and delivered a dart of a lead pass all the way up to Monahan at the offensive blue. Monahan then waited for Gaudreau to join the play before saucing it perfectly into his pal's wheelhouse, and No. 13 did the rest with a cheeky backhand, five-hole.

"It comes down to confidence," Monahan said. "When you're playing frustrated and you're not producing and making things happen, it weighs on you a little bit. But when you have a night like that and things are going well, you usually ride with it. We've got to continue that with our next game and keep moving forward."

David Rittich wasn't overly busy in the opening frame, but he was good when he had to be at the tail end of a Devils' powerplay midway through. Blake Pietila rifled a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle, but Rittich - anticipating the pass and pushing hard to his left - made it across in time to reject the short-side try with a massive pad save.

If wasn't for a tough-luck play some 90 feet away, the Flames would have maintained their 1-0 advantage through to the intermission. Instead, a blocked shot at the right point sent Blake Coleman back the other way on a partial 2-on-0 with Kyle Palmieri.

Bang-bang. 1-1.

Then, only a short while later - after a Calgary clearing attempt ended up in the wrong hands - Palmieri was the recipient of a Damon Severson pass at the side of the net, and his quick tip put the Devils in front.

Former Flames prospect Kenny Agostino put the Devils up by two just 54 seconds into the second, but Bennett got the Flames back within one as he finished off a pretty pass from a pinching Giordano at 7:17, capping a remarkable shift by the captain that culminated that ridiculous, no-look centering pass.

The Flames levelled the score and brought the crowd back to life at 10:13 as Monahan shrugged off a check and sent a backhand pass in front, where Lindholm briefly corralled the bouncing puck, spun, fired and put the second effort past a sprawling MacKenzie Blackwood.

Video: NJD@CGY: Lindholm puts home own rebound in front

"We haven't been great the last couple weeks, so it was good to see other lines step up," Lindholm said. "Today was our turn.

"I thought we did a good job"

The Devils took a 4-3 lead with a short-handed marker at 17:49, but that was that.

The Devils' last breath.

"You've seen a lot of those in the third period where we've come back and taken over games," Ryan said. "That speaks to the character, the confidence, the faith that we have in our ability to play. We just have to play the right way. I felt we were playing that way in certain areas, but a complete, 100% game.

"But we felt that in the third and played that way."

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