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Flames pull away from Coyotes with big third period

by Jerry Brown /

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Calgary Flames entered Thursday with the best third-period goal differential in the NHL, and the Arizona Coyotes were tied for worst in the League.

So it was not surprising when Calgary forward David Jones scored to break a tie less than five minutes into the third period, sending the Flames on their way to a 4-1 win against the Coyotes at Gila River Arena.

Coyotes goalie Mike Smith was able to stop Flames defenseman TJ Brodie's shot, but Jones and linemate Lance Bouma were left unmarked, and Jones lifted his seventh goal over Smith at 4:51 to put Calgary in front to stay.

"We had guys going to the net all night. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting a shot to come off like that where the puck just sits there for you," Jones said. "Lance said I could have just left it for him and he would have buried it too. When the game is tight, that's how you score in this league."

Defenseman Mark Giordano iced the game for the Flames with 4:02 left, beating Smith through a screen for his 11th goal.

Sean Monahan finished the scoring with an empty-net goal with 1:25 remaining.

The Flames have outscored opponents 54-29 in the third period this season.

"Our conditioning has a lot to do with our ability to apply pressure all night long. That pays off late in games," Bouma said. "We play the same way whether we are ahead, behind or tied, and we know it's the only way we're going to have success."

Calgary (23-18-3) has won all four games against Arizona this season by a combined 17-6.

Smith made two great saves after Jones scored the go-ahead goal, robbing Joe Colborne with a glove save and stacking the pads to stop a 2-on-1 shot by Jiri Hudler to keep the game close.

But the Coyotes couldn't solve Flames goalie Joni Ortio, who made 27 saves and has stopped 63 of 64 shots in back-to-back wins since being recalled from Adirondack of the American Hockey League last week.

"They create a lot of their offense from the defense, and our guys did a good job of not letting a lot of shots get through," Ortio said. "I'm pleased with the two games I've played, but I have to keep moving forward."

Mikael Backlund scored a goal for the fourth straight game to give the Flames a 1-0 lead 1:03 into the second period.

Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker answered with his fifth goal in the past four games to even the game after two periods.

But Arizona was outplayed late again.

"We were solid until the third period," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We had two or three good chances in the second and didn't capitalize. Then we didn't generate much in the third. We had very poor coverage on the [Jones goal] by two forwards and we didn't generate enough to get back in it.

After allowing three goals to Calgary, Arizona has been outscored 55-25 in the third period this season for an NHL-worst goal differential of minus-30.

Smith finished with 21 saves for the Coyotes (16-23-4), who have lost three straight and four of five.

"It was pretty obvious today that every time you make a small error, the other team has good players who are going to find the back of the net," Boedker said. "I thought [Smith] played well. We just had some mishaps.

"It's nice to score, but it's not worth talking about one person when you're losing. It just happens to fall on my stick right now and it's going in the back of the net."

The Flames lost forward Curtis Glencross to a lower-body injury late in the first period. He did not return.

Calgary and Arizona combined for 30 hits in a scoreless first period. The Coyotes had a good chance in the opening minute, but Ortio denied Sam Gagner from close range.

"That puck was definitely going in, and [Ortio] found a way to get the glove out," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "You want a great start on the road, and he kept us in the game."

The Coyotes controlled most of the second period. The Flames had one shot in the first 14 minutes, but it came off the stick of their hottest player.

Rookie forward Johnny Gaudreau moved the puck ahead to Backlund, whose innocent-looking shot from the right circle grazed off the skate of Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and eluded Smith's glove.

Backlund, who missed 29 games from Oct. 31-Jan. 2 because of abdominal surgery, has a goal in each of the four games since his return and a total of six points.

Arizona tied the game at 12:36 of the second. Kyle Chipchura set up Yandle in the slot for a shot that Ortio stopped and pushed away from the crease. Boedker gathered the puck in between the circles, then stickhandled around traffic in a serpentine pattern for about five seconds before finally beating Ortio with a wrist shot under the crossbar at 12:36 for his 14th goal, which leads the Coyotes.

Boedker's five goals in the past four games have come on six shots on goal. He has six points during a career-best point streak of four games.

It was the first goal allowed by Ortio since he was recalled Jan. 8; he had a 36-save shutout, his first in the NHL, in a 1-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks last Saturday.

"We had 12 shots after the first 40 minutes, and that's not going to win you hockey games," Hartley said. "We had a good talk (in the second intermission), and the boys responded. We wanted to put more pucks on the net and we got it done."

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