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Flames continue impressive play at Scotiabank Saddledome, dumping Desert Dogs on a big day for Giordano

by TY PILSON @typilson /

After winning just once on their recent four-game road swing, Johnny Gaudreau was asked Sunday about his hopes for the team's upcoming three-game homestand this week.

"Nice to get back here and hopefully get home-ice advantage and string along some wins," he said.

On a day the club celebrated both Family Day and the Chinese Lunar New Year in a matinee tilt with the visiting Arizona Coyotes, they got off to a heckuva start.

Derek Ryan, Mark Giordano, Austin Czarnik, Michael Frolik and Mikael Backlund - with an empty-netter - scored as the Flames improved their impressive mark at the Scotiabank Saddledome to 18-5-5, tied for the least amount of home-ice losses this season with Tampa Bay and San Jose, with a 5-2 victory Monday.

It was their third win this season against the Desert Dogs.

Giordano also collected an assist in the victory to reach 57 points on the season, tied for second among NHL blueliners and setting a new personal best in the process.

He played alongside Rasmus Andersson in the contest as TJ Brodie sat out, listed as day-to-day.

"It always feels good to contribute and get points offensively but, again, we have such a good team and we score so many goals that a lot of guys numbers are going to look really good this year but, more importantly, where we are in the standings is huge for our team right now and we want to keep pushing and try and get that top spot," he said.

Mike Smith - making his third-straight start - turned aside 27 shots to record his 16th win of the season.

"I feel great, to start with that," said Smith. "But I think I've never been one to get complacent and say you got it. I think you never quite have it in this league. I think as soon as you think you got it, it can turn on you pretty quick.

"So I think I'm going to keep as even-keel as possible here. I know I've came a long ways and worked real hard in practice to get back to where I know I'm capable of playing. I'm getting rewarded with some starts and some good play and some wins."

While the Flames had struggled going 1-1-2 on their road swing, the Coyotes came into the game on an impressive run, having won two of their last three games with a 5-2 road win over the Vegas Golden Knights and 2-0 home shutout of the Maple Leafs.

To no surprise, the Flames recent breakout line of Ryan, Andrew Mangiapane and Garnet Hathaway got things started in the contest.

Mangiapane - who scored in the 5-4 win over Pittsburgh Saturday to finish off their trip on a winning note - nearly got his third career NHL tally not long after the opening faceoff, taking a pass from Ryan close to the blue paint, before a nifty little Savardian spin-o-rama on the spot but his in-tight shot was stopped by Calvin Pickard, who made 28 saves on the day.

However, the rebound quickly found its way to the point, with a Giordano blast being deftly tipped in the high slot by Ryan just 1:34 into the contest.

Ryan - the off-season acquisition from Carolina - had three assists in the victory over Pittsburgh.

"I thought they were really good again tonight," said Giordano of the trio. "They've been good here for a awhile now. It seems like every shift they're in the O-zone, working the other team and grinding them.

"They're playing the right way, they're playing hard and they're getting rewarded. So it's nice to see."


Video: ARI@CGY: Ryan redirects Giordano's shot past Pickard


Elias Lindholm almost doubled the Flames lead with a fantastic opportunity in the middle stanza, taking a pass from Backlund and skating across the crease but was unable to lift the puck over the outstretched left pad of Pickard, which he jammed against the far post.

Conor Garland knotted the game for the visitors when he was sprung on partial breakaway by Nick Cousins, firing a far-side backhand at full speed up and over Smith's glove hand.

Giordano's goal finished off a beautiful play that started with a stretch pass from Rasmus Andersson to Matthew Tkachuk, with No. 19 skating the puck into the Arizona zone and battling off a Coyotes forward along the boards to maintain possession, before passing cross ice to the captain who held the puck as he skated in and across the crease and tucked a backhand home around Pickard.


Video: ARI@CGY: Giordano pots goal on the backhand


Jordan Weal added a powerplay marker to tie it up again before Czarnik struck for his fourth of the season and second in two games, benefitting from a Sam Bennett shot attempt that deflected off Coyotes centre Derek Stepan right onto his stick as he skated down mainstreet, snapping it home late in the second period.

Less than three minutes into the third, Mangiapane was denied on a breakaway attempt by Pickard, who got his right shoulder on his wrister, sending it up and over the net. 

Frolik, though, salted the game away, capitalizing on a turnover in the Arizona zone to score his 13th of the campaign at 5:43.

"It was a good night all around," said head coach Bill Peters. "We'll take it. We'll enjoy the day off (Tuesday) and then we'll dig in and get ready to go to work."


The Flames continue this three-game homestand when they host the Islanders Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. (TV: Sportsnet One, Radio: Sportsnet960 THE FAN)

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