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Monahan, Gaudreau lead Flames to 4-3 win over Sabres

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Johnny Gaudreau scored the game-winner with 4:50 remaining in the third period, and Jonas Hiller made 27 saves in a surprise start to help the Calgary Flames to a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

Off the rush, Gaudreau took a return pass from Flames center Sean Monahan and beat Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson five-hole.

Monahan had two goals, and Markus Granlund scored late in the second period for Calgary (12-14-2), which has won four straight games and eight in a row at home. It's Calgary's longest home winning streak since also winning eight straight Feb. 23-March 27, 2013. Calgary's franchise record for consecutive home wins is 10, set from Nov. 7-Dec. 12, 2006.

Rasmus Ristolainen had a hat trick for Buffalo (11-15-3), which has lost three games in a row after earning at least a point in four straight (3-0-1).

Hiller left practice early Wednesday and did not participate in the morning skate because of sickness. He had played once since Oct. 28 after sustaining a lower-body injury that forced him to miss 12 games. Karri Ramo, who was expected to play and had started 15 of the past 16 games for the Flames, backed up Hiller.

Flames forward Jiri Hudler didn't play because of the flu.

Gaudreau's game-winner came after a Sabres rally earlier in the third.

Ristolainen's first goal in 14 games cut Calgary's lead to 2-1. With Flames forward Sam Bennett serving an interference minor, Ristolainen beat a screened Hiller glove side 2:27 into the third. Off the ensuing faceoff following another Bennett minor, Ryan O'Reilly won the draw back to Ristolainen, who beat Hiller with a wrist shot from the high slot to tie the game 2-2 at 4:44.

Monahan restored Calgary's lead with his second goal of the game at 9:25 of the third period, converting on a backdoor pass from Gaudreau. But Ristolainen completed his hat trick with 5:45 remaining in the third period, circling behind the net before sending a pass through the crease that hit Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman and bounced into the net.

Hiller made six saves in the first period in his first game since a 5-2 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 28. Johnson, in his first start in his hometown, made 10 saves in the scoreless first.

Monahan scored 5:46 into the second period to give Calgary a 1-0 lead. Johnson made the initial save on Wideman's point shot, but Monahan scored on his second rebound attempt.

Granlund doubled the lead with 7.1 seconds remaining in the second, beating Johnson after taking a cross-crease pass from Dougie Hamilton. Granlund has three goals in six games since being recalled from Stockton of the American Hockey League.

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