Backlund scores in OT to give Flames 3-2 win over Hurricanes
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) After fading down the stretch last season, the Calgary Flames are determined not to let it happen again.
Mikael Backlund scored 15 seconds into overtime Tuesday night to give the Flames a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Calgary (33-13-5) heads into the All-Star break as the No. 1 team in the Western Conference, six points up on San Jose.
"It's good that we take the time early on to completely shut hockey off and just relax and then the closer we get to coming back, we've got to get the minds ready," Backlund said.
"Most guys were here last year and we learned a lesson from last year when we weren't as good after the break. We know what to do this time and what not to."
Calgary went 12-18-2 after Feb. 1 last season and missed the playoffs.
All-Star representative Sebastian Aho tied it for Carolina with 44 seconds left in regulation. Dougie Hamilton also scored for the Hurricanes (23-20-6), who are trying to work their way into the wild-card race in the East.
Peter Mrazek stopped 22 shots and denied the Flames on several prime chances.
"He enabled us to at least hang in there and get a point out of this game," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
"The positive is you came in here against one of the best teams and in my opinion, we could have had that game."
It was the first game between the teams since Bill Peters resigned as coach of the Hurricanes after four seasons and was hired by the Flames in April 2018.
Carolina led 26-11 in shots on goal after two periods but trailed 2-1.
Jankowski scored 4-on-4 at 6:40 of the second. Backlund dished T.J. Brodie's cross-ice pass to Jankowski lurking at the corner of the Hurricanes net, where he batted the puck over Mrazek.
Hamilton drew the Hurricanes even at 15:48 of the first when he wristed a drop pass from Brock McGinn by Rittich.
Kylington darted out of the corner and beat Mrazek's glove with a backhand at 1:58 of the opening period. The Hurricanes challenged for goaltender interference, but were denied.
After scoring 12 power-play goals in 10 games this month, Calgary was blanked on four chances thanks in large part to Mrazek's acrobatics.
The Flames didn't get a lot of sustained pressure in Carolina's zone until the third period.
"I don't think we played our best game, but again, we found a way to win and I think that's a big key," Backlund said
"That was one of our weaknesses last year. We couldn't find ways to win and this year, it's the opposite. Good teams, they find ways to win."
The All-Star break and bye week will provide an eight-day breather for the Flames, with the exception of All-Star participants Johnny Gaudreau and Peters.
"Going into the break it's important to go in with a good taste in your mouth," Peters said. "I like the direction which we are trending and the contributions throughout the lineup.
"We played the best when the game was on the line in the third and I thought we had some great looks that made Mrazek make some big saves for them. ... We'll take the two points heading into the break and we'll come back refreshed and ready to go."
NOTES: Gaudreau was kept off the scoresheet for the first time since Dec. 29. ... Hamilton and forward Micheal Ferland also played their first game in Calgary since they were dealt to the Hurricanes for right wing Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin at the 2018 draft. Ferland didn't finish the game because of an upper-body injury, Brind'Amour said.
Hurricanes: Finish their three-game road trip Wednesday night at Vancouver.
Flames: Off until Feb. 1 against the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals before a rematch with the Hurricanes in North Carolina two days later.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Updated January 23, 2019