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Gaudreau, Hiller help Flames handle Sabres

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- Johnny Gaudreau soaked in his experience representing the Calgary Flames at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game. He applied what he learned in his first game after returning.

Gaudreau scored twice, and Jonas Hiller made 17 saves to help the Flames to a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.

"Just being around the guys that were in that locker room this weekend, it's just exciting for me to be a part of that kind of weekend," Gaudreau said. "We got a ton of rest there (in Columbus) that weekend. I'm excited for the second half of the season."

Josh Jooris and Joe Colborne scored for the Flames (26-19-3), who started a six-game homestand and a stretch of 10 of the next 12 games here.

"Every game's huge," Colborne said. "Even though this is an Eastern Conference team, it doesn't matter. That's two points we can put into the bank. To start the homestand, that was important to put the winning feeling back in here."

Chris Stewart scored for the Sabres, who have lost 12 consecutive games and 16 of their past 17.

Buffalo (14-31-3), last in the NHL with 31 points, is searching for its first win of 2015 and doesn't have a point since a 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Islanders on Dec. 27. The Sabres’ drought is the longest since the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 13 games without earning a point in 2003-04.

"If we knew the answer we would try to fix it," Stewart said. "I wouldn’t say its lack of effort. We’ve just got to get mentally tough. You look at the last 11 games. We’ve been up in those games. We were in those games. It’s been the same story. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board. We’re going to Edmonton and it’s a must-win game.

"I think it’s up to the veteran guys and the leadership group to carry that message and lead by example. The followers will follow and the leaders will lead."

Calgary extended Buffalo’s woes with a strong third period.

Colborne’s blocked-shot attempt off a rush skipped to Jooris, who beat Jhonas Enroth to break a 1-1 tie at 9:05. The goal was Jooris’ 10th of the season and Flames-leading fourth game-winning goal.

"I think tonight it just landed right on the stick," said Jooris, who had 11 goals in 73 games with the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League last season. "It was a great play by [Colborne] to bear down and get it to the net and it just hopped right on my stick. I was on the fortunate side of that one. I think our line was going tonight and we deserved that one."

Colborne scored his sixth goal of the season at 14:06 to give the Flames a cushion, swatting a rebound off Raphael Diaz’s initial point shot through Enroth’s pads with Sabres defenseman Mike Weber serving a delay of game penalty.

Gaudreau scored his 15th of the season, tapping a passing play set up by linemates Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler past Enroth with 2:32 remaining to extend Calgary’s lead to 4-1.

"I'm excited to help the team offensively," Gaudreau said. "Playing with [Hudler], I'm going to get scoring chances and I'm bound to score some goals here and there. That pass he made in the third, that's just an empty-net tap-in. I'll take those."

Hiller made two saves in the third period for his first win since Dec. 31.

"Hiller was important tonight," Jooris said. "He made some crucial saves tonight when we needed him and we stuck with it. He bailed us out a couple times in the first and second. I guess if we gave him a bit of a break it was nice for him. He was stellar all night."

The Sabres’ first shot on goal came at 9:03, by Cody Hodgson. Their first goal came 1:30 later.

Early in a hooking minor to Colborne, Stewart redirected Tyler Ennis’ centering pass by the blocker of Hiller for his seventh of the season to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead at 10:33.

Gaudreau responded with a power-play goal three minutes later, taking a pass from Hudler, pulling himself off the goal line and tucking a shot under Enroth’s arm.

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