VANCOUVER -- Jonas Hiller made the most of a rare start.
Starting ahead of Karri Ramo for the first time in seven games, Hiller made 34 saves and the Calgary Flames defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
The Flames were playing for the second straight night and were outshot 18-9 in the second period, but they carried a 1-0 lead into the third thanks in large part to Hiller, who made his best saves late in the middle period.
"Hills was outstanding," coach Bob Hartley said.
Michael Frolik opened the scoring 6:25 into the second period and Hiller helped Calgary hold that 1-0 lead until Sean Monahan added an insurance goal with 4:53 left in the third. Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett had empty-net goals as Calgary (23-25-3) bounced back from a 2-1 home loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday to get their second win in the past six games.
"Hills played great for us in net," said Backlund, who also had an assist. "He made big saves for us in the second period and created some momentum."
Monahan's insurance goal became the game-winner when Emerson Etem scored with 94 seconds left to snap Hiller's bid for his second shutout this season.
Video: CGY@VAN: Hudler sets up Monahan for one-timer
Hiller wasn't worried about the shutout or whether he might get to play more. He was just happy to get a win as the Flames try to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Western Conference. Calgary is eight points out of a playoff spot with 31 games left; the Flames' next game is Tuesday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"All I can do is play as well as I can when I get a chance and hopefully a few more games," Hiller said. "In the position we're at, every single point is really important. … That's definitely something to build on."
The Canucks are looking for anything they can build on after their fourth consecutive loss.
They had to settle for creating lots of scoring opportunities against the Flames, but coach Willie Desjardins lamented ones they missed, especially when Hiller left rebounds.
"We had chances." Desjardins said. "We had 35 [shots] and we had 19 wide and 19 blocked, so we had lots of opportunities, but you gotta come up with something."
Video: CGY@VAN: Hiller lays out to deny Sedin, rebound
Despite playing for the second time in as many nights, Calgary outshot the Canucks 7-5 in the opening period, then opened the scoring 6:25 into the second on a 3-on-2 rush after Vancouver's top defenseman Alexander Edler got caught deep in the Flames' zone. With forward Daniel Sedin taking Edler's spot on defense, Frolik completed a nice three-way passing with Backlund and defenseman TJ Brodie by driving to the net to tap in a backdoor pass from Brodie for his ninth goal of the season and first point in six games.
"They got a little bit caught on the forecheck. I was just driving to the net and it came right to my stick," said Frolik, who also added an assist. "It's a big win. … We need to play every game like it's a Game 7 for us. I think it's going to be like that for the rest of the season. We need that mindset and believe we can do that."
Hiller, who stopped 73 of 77 shots in his previous three starts, including a shutout Jan. 13 against the Florida Panthers, kept the Flames ahead with a couple of tough saves after Calgary killed a penalty late in the second period. He slid across to stop defenseman Dan Hamhuis on a redirection and robbed Sven Baertschi on the rebound.
"In the second period they got some momentum there and we found a way to get into the third with a 1-0 lead," Hiller said. "I thought we played well in the third."
Calgary doubled the lead after Jiri Hudler stole the puck in the corner and fed Monahan in the high slot for a one-timer past Miller's blocker. Backlund hit the empty net with 2:15 left before Etem scored his first goal since coming to the Canucks from the New York Rangers in a mid-January trade with 1:34 left.
Video: CGY@VAN: Vey feeds Etem for one-timer late in 3rd
"Obviously you want to get those in a win, but for me it's been a struggle to put them in," Etem said of his first goal this season. "I thought we could have maybe thrown it off his pads a little more, he was giving out rebounds and we weren't really driving. We just got to save that for next game. Every point from here on out is crucial."
With Hamhuis playing his first game sustaining multiple facial fractures on Dec. 9, and Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter also returning from injuries in the previous two games, the Canucks were completely healthy for the first time since early November. However, good health hasn't helped their struggling offense; the Canucks were held to one goal for a third straight loss at home, and only drew one power-play opportunity.
"We have to get to the net more," Desjardins said. "We gotta make more hard plays to the net and we can't just accept checks. If guys are pushing us out, we gotta fight and if you fight a lot of times you will draw it. We seem to accept the checks a little bit."
Vancouver can bounce back with road games at the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday and the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.
"It's frustrating and we've got to start turning the corner," said Miller, who made 26 saves. "We can't hang our heads and say 'oh well it happened again.' We've got to start digging ourselves out."
Video: Canucks fall to Flames as offense falters