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Gaudreau nets two goals in overtime win over Predators

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Mikael Backlund scored the game-winner 1:12 into overtime to help the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

Johnny Gaudreau had two goals and an assist, and Joni Ortio made 24 saves for Calgary (28-34-5), which is 2-0-1 in its past three games following a seven-game losing streak.

"I don't really know what the standings are right now. I haven't really checked them out," Gaudreau said. "We have to play our hardest every single game. There are a lot of expectations in this locker room to finish the season out strong, get a good summer in and be ready for next year."

Anthony Bitetto and Mike Fisher scored, and Carter Hutton made 31 saves for Nashville (34-21-13), which has earned points in a franchise-record 14 straight games (9-0-5). The Predators haven't lost in regulation since Feb. 9.

"You wish every game was perfect, but it's not," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "You've got to play the hand that's dealt sometimes and that was the hand we were playing. Guys know it wasn't where we needed to be and they know that we're capable of playing better. I think the big thing is they found a way to turn it around in the third period. To me, that speaks volumes to the guys in the room and their commitment to get a win."

Gaudreau slowed up to allow Backlund to join an odd-man rush before finding him backdoor with a tap-in to give the Flames their second win in three games.

"It was a long shift for him," Backlund said. "I was expecting him to shoot after a while there, then it just came. You've always got to be ready when he has the puck."

The Predators forced overtime with a late rally.

Bitetto cut the lead to 2-1 with his first NHL goal at 7:44 of the third period. Viktor Arvidsson's initial shot was blocked in front of the net, but from a sitting position Mike Fisher slid a pass to Bitetto, who beat a sprawling Ortio.

"It's nice to get it out of the way I guess," Bitetto said. "It's obviously something you always think about it as a kid. I guess it finally happened. It's a pretty good feeling, but it's unfortunate we didn't get the win."

Fisher tied the game 2-2 with 1:18 remaining. With Nashville's net empty for an extra attacker, Arvidsson poked at a loose puck in the slot that Fisher redirected by Ortio to tie the game.

"To come out and grab the third period like that I thought was a really gutsy effort by our guys," Laviolette said. "We battled back on the road down two goals. It's not really going your way on a night, but yet you stay with it and stick with it and find a way to score the two goals."

Gaudreau scored goals 10 seconds apart midway through the first period.

He took a cross-ice pass from Mark Giordano and paused before lifting a shot over the glove of Hutton and under the crossbar at 9:34. Play continued for 30 seconds until it was blown dead to review the shot and confirm the puck went in.

Following the review and the ensuing face-off at center ice, Gaudreau received a quick pass from Sean Monahan, burst around a falling Ryan Ellis at the Predators blue line and beat Hutton with a shot between the legs to give Calgary a two-goal lead. Gaudreau has 65 points this season; he had 64 in 80 games as a rookie in 2014-15.

The Flames' record for fastest two goals by one player is six seconds by Lanny McDonald, against the Detroit Red Wings on March 22, 1984.

"There aren't too many guys like him in this League," Backlund said of Gaudreau. "He's definitely up there with (Chicago Blackhawks forward) Patrick Kane. He's having a dominant year, but those two guys are so quick in tight with the stick too. It's impressive to watch."

Calgary forward Sam Bennett left the game in the second period, and defenceman TJ Brodie in the third because of upper-body injuries. They did not return.

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