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SCORING SOME RELIEF

Bennett notches first goal of the season, lifting big weight off his shoulders

by GEORGE JOHNSON @georgejohnsonCH / calgaryflames.com

The expression on Sam Bennett's face went past bliss, beyond balm for the soul.

It was the look of pure relief.

"Definitely,'' agreed Bennett, who cashed the rebound of a Mark Jankowski shot behind St. Louis goalie Jake Allen at 5:39 of the third period to end a 16-game run of personal goal-scoring torment.

"I didn't think I'd be waiting so long for this one. I've never gone this many games without scoring to start a season. So, yeah, nice to get that out of the way. But more importantly we got the win and the guys stuck together."

Understand, that wasn't just any old monkey tumbling off Bennett's back.

Try King Kong.

It was another pinball-wizard game overflowing with goals, chances, a second straight impactful night for the Jankowski-Bennett-Jaromir Jagr unit, six points collectively, as the Flames outlasted the Blues 7-4 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I think he was so relieved he didn't even want to celebrate,'' said coach Glen Gulutzan of Bennett's drought-ender. "He didn't want to put his hands in the air.

"He's been around the net. You guys have witnessed it. He's had his chances. They just haven't gone in. We always talk about this league putting you in your place but you keep doing the right things, keep getting chances, you'll get rewarded.

"I was happy for him tonight. I admit that.

"You can certainly see what Jags brings to those two young players - a sense of confidence, he makes plays for them.

"I thought Janks and Benny were good tonight.

"But that's the gig, right? That's the challenge. Show me a guy who plays well without confidence. It's not something hand in your pocket you can give to them. You just have to go through the process. Reinforcing and video and reinforcing … what you do with your kids when you're trying to get them started."

Video: Bennett talks about his first goal of the season

About the only downside to the evening was No.-1 goaltender Mike Smith exiting the game at the end of the first period to an undisclosed injury.

Eddie Lack came on in relief and while the fun-loving Swede might've surrendered two goals on 15 shots, he did produce a luminous, lead-holding save using his right pad on a close-in backhander off the stick of Dmitrij Jaskin with the Flames ahead 5-4 and six minutes remaining.

"Huge,'' replied Lack of that particular swindle. "Huge. I got booed two minutes before. Then I got the 'Ed-die!' chant. Very black and white in this business, to be honest.

"Not much to think about. Just go out and play my game."

Jankowski's certainly playing his game at the moment. The freshman pivot's second goal of the year and first of the second period was set in motion by Matthew Tkachuk crowding the Blues' Paul Stastny along the half-wall, the puck ricocheting free into the high slot.

In perfect position for the carom, Jankowski stepped into the shot - with the ferocity of Tiger Woods ripping a driver on a short, straightaway par-4 - right past Allen.

His second goal could best be described as positively young-Jagr-like, a set-up from the 45-year-old future Hall-of-Famer - Jankowski using that Boeing 777 wingspan to maximum effect, sweeping beyond Allen as he cut across the face of the net and almost casually slipping the puck in.

"Every game it's getting a lot more comfortable,'' agreed Jankowski. "Got a few games under my belt with my two linemates now and we're really clicking. That's a huge part of it.

"We knew we were getting our chances and the goals would come if we kept playing that way.

"We're all hard-working, skilled players. Those two guys make plays, hold onto pucks, hard on the forecheck and take it to the net."

Video: Gulutzan gives his analysis of a high-scoring victory

The third period had a back-and-forth, shot-for-shot tennis match feel to it, the Flames seizing the initiative three times and the Blues twice coming back to equalize, their fourth goal, via Vladimir Tarasenko, only a dozen seconds after Micheal Ferland had staked Calgary to its third lead of the evening, 4-3.

"I've talked to these guys about having some swag when the real bullets are flying,'' said Gulutzan. "That's when you've got to rise up.

"Start acting like a good team. That's the progression for us. I think we are a good team. We have to act like it.

"I thought it was a good response after giving up that fourth goal."

Now the Flames depart on their longest road trip of the season, six games,12 days.

At least they do so buoyed by a highly-successful 5-2 homestand.

"This wasn't an easy homestand,'' Gulutzan praised. "The way the games were spread out, the time between, there was not really a rhythm we could get into.

"So I'm impressed with our guys. Especially tonight, before (heading out on) the road. 

"I thought this was our strongest game of the homestand."

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