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SHOOTING GALLERY

After a career-year in Calgary, Elias Lindholm is hoping that firepower carries over to the World Championship

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Elias Lindholm has taken plenty of shots this season.

His latest has him hoping to shoot into summer with a golden feeling.  

Lindholm, representing Sweden at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, is eyeing another memorable performance on the international stage after netting a first-place finish two years ago.

"I've been around for a while now," Lindholm started. "I know how hard it is to win. I knew we had a good team and we had a good chance at the tournament. Obviously you just want to come here and try to win. In 2017 we had a good team, too, and had a chance to win.

"After you win, you always want more."

Lindholm was 22, and a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, when he last suited up for Sweden.

But his age hasn't limited how well decorated he's been.

In addition to his gold in 2017, Lindholm has a single silver from the 2012 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, and a pair of second-place prizes from each of the 2013 and 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.

He has a chance to add to his collection in Bratislava.

And, naturally, a chance to build his experience.

"Obviously, for me, I've played in a lot of finals," said Lindholm, acquired alongside defenceman Noah Hanifin in a swap with the Hurricanes last June. "I know what it is to stand on the blueline and taking those silver medals. Luckily in 2017, we had a good team and were lucky to win. It's always fun. I think it's good to play those meaningful games and get used to them and prepare to be as good as possible when those games show up.

"This is the time you want to be playing. You go back to the room and sometimes you stay up late to watch some playoff games.

"Hopefully next year we can be one of those teams that are still playing."

He's shooting to help Calgary be better next year.

It is his strong suit, after all.

With the Flames this season, the 24-year-old forward set a new career-high with 182 shots on goal, converting on 14.8% of them - another personal best.

With that, it's not hard to figure out how Lindholm, riding alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on Calgary's top line, found the back of the net 28 times in 2018-19 -- 10 more than his previous bar-setter.

"In Carolina I had a lot of shots as well, but hit some posts and didn't have the bounces I had this year," said Lindholm, the highest-producing Swedish-born player in the NHL this season.

"When I saw them start going in early on, it's just 'keep shooting.' I had a lot of good passes from Johnny and Mony and the other guys. For me, you look at the guys who score a lot of goals and they're shooting a lot.

"When you hit the net and create some chaos you're going to get rewarded."

But it wasn't unexpected from some that know him best.

"That's not a surprise," said Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, who grew up in the same hometown as Lindholm. "I was hoping he'd come to Vancouver from Carolina but that didn't happen. Great guy. Real competitor. That line with Monahan, Gaudreau and himself was unbelievable.

"I don't like to talk too highly about Calgary Flames players to be honest, but he had a good year. I'm happy for him as a friend.

"For sure. I stay with him every summer for a long time. Watching him play junior and all that. He was super talented and super skilled.

"Hopefully we can get some of that out of him this tournament."

 

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Lindholm is finding his footing with an impressive Swedish group.

After six points (two goals, four assists) in eight games in 2017, he has two points -- both assists - through three skates with Sweden.

More importantly, Lindholm offered, was the chance to step into summer on a high note.

"For sure," he said. "Obviously it's a nice feeling when you win. A career is pretty short. You know when you have a good team and you know when you have a chance to win.

"I think we have a good team here, like we have in Calgary.

"It's fun to be here."

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