Like most nights Connor McDavid plays, the evening opened with the spotlight on him.
With 15 points in his previous five games, No. 97 represented the latest in a series of hurdles between the Calgary Flames and a playoff spot.
However, at the end of the night, he was the main man responsible for trying to stop McDavid’s series of four-point efforts in a row who stole center stage.
Not only did Elias Lindholm play an important role in keeping McDavid off the scoreboard Thursday, the Flames’ top center also scored two goals in a crucial 3-1 win over Edmonton that put Calgary four points behind fourth place. , Montreal.
A large chunk of the penalty unit that closed the door to the Oilers’ three power plays, Lindholm was also 64 percent in the head-to-head circle on a night where he was also on the wrong side of a reel. Featured saved by Mike Smith who will live on for years.
Holding on to a 2-1 lead in the final minute of the second period, Lindholm and Mikael Backlund had a two-on-one in which Backlund tossed the perfect sauce on Tyson Barrie’s stick, giving Lindholm a brief look at an open cage before the The former Flames goalkeeper slid down to catch the puck with his extended glove.
“I tried to get up and saw an open net, but he made a good save, it is what it is,” smiled Lindholm, who would have otherwise completed his hat trick with 13 seconds left in frame.
“It was probably my best chance in a long time. Funny how it works. Two greasy at the beginning and then you have a very good chance and it doesn’t go in. “
The Flames’ leading scorer was being modest, as he has now scored in seven of his last nine games, reminding people once again that he is Calgary’s most complete player.
“It was unbelievable,” said Matthew Tkachuk, who set up the first opening time of Lindholm’s game with a pass from behind the net.
“Retrieve the drawings. Not many people realize that their second goal started with a win (head-to-head) in the offensive zone and that they got a part of (a point from Rasmus Andersson) that went to the net where the goals were scored. Great penalty kills him and the rest of the penalty shootout guys. He has a really hard job as a center against McDavid basically all night and he did a great job against him. “
Like every other team in the division, the Flames have struggled for the most part to limit McDavid, who has long thrived on the extra man.
“I think at the beginning (outside of the season series) we received a lot of penalties and obviously their power play is very good and our penalty has not been that good,” said Lindholm, whose club can match the 10-game series with a win. Saturday.
“In general, staying out of the box is key.”
The Flames successfully annihilated the last minute of a penalty to open the third period and had to do it once again with eight minutes to go after Tkachuk suffered a boarding penalty eight seconds after Dillon Dube made it 3-1. . Lindholm played an important role in both attacks, as did Jacob Markstrom, who was spectacular in a 30-save effort.
“Good all-round game for Lindy,” said coach Darryl Sutter, who brought Lindholm, Tkachuk and Gaudreau together after mixing the lines a game earlier.
“Obviously, he’s a really good two-way center for us. It’s good to see it rewarded too. “
More importantly, the team left with the only thing that matters to keep their wavering playoff hopes alive.
“If we play like we did tonight, we are going to win most nights,” Tkachuk said.
“But they are a team that played back to back and a bit of travel there. They’re going to be a lot better on Saturday night, we know that, especially their best guys. We will be more than prepared for that. “
You can bet that many of the Flames will be watching Montreal host Winnipeg on Friday, and will be keeping an eye out for the Habs / Sens early game on Saturday before the Flames play in Edmonton for Saturday’s late game.
“We are not in a position we want to be in now, we are not yet, even after this win tonight,” said Tkachuk, whose club has won six of nine.
“Unfortunately, we are also watching the score a bit. Hopefully it’s a two-team race with us and Montreal. I guess all we can do is keep winning and I hope they lose something to make this very interesting down the stretch. “