CALGARY — Rookie Flames centre Adam Ruzicka had a goal and an assist and was a plus-3 as Calgary made it six wins in a row on Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders.
Chris Tanev, Andrew Mangiapane, with his team-leading 24th goal, Erik Gudbranson and Elias Lindholm also scored for Calgary (26-13-6). The red-hot Flames improve to a perfect 3-0-0 on a seven-game homestand that sees Columbus up next on Tuesday. Overall, they’ve won six straight at the Saddledome by a combined score of 29-6.
Calgary climbs to within one point of Vegas for first place in the Pacific Division. The Flames hold three games in hand on the Golden Knights.
Noah Dobson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for New York (17-19-6), which earns two of six points on its Western Canada road trip. The Islanders wrap up a stretch of four road games in a row in Buffalo on Tuesday.
In his 12th consecutive start in net for Calgary, Jacob Markstrom had 19 saves to improve to 20-10-5.
Ilya Sorokin made 24 stops in getting the surprise start for the Islanders. His record falls to 14-10-5.
Semyon Varlamov was supposed to start after Sorokin took the loss in Edmonton on Friday, and it was Varlamov who led the team onto the ice for warm-up. But right after, he was placed into the NHL’s COVID protocol, pressing Sorokin into duty.
Calgary struck first at 9:58 when defenceman Rasmus Andersson carried the puck in deep and around the net before centering a pass to Ruzicka, who one-timed it into the top corner.
The Islanders tied it up at 17:07 on a power play when Dobson’s point shot deflected off Blake Coleman’s stick and eluded Markstrom.
But the Flames regained the lead 61 seconds later on a set-up from Johnny Gaudreau, who crossed the Islanders blue line, curled back to buy himself some time and space and fed Tanev coming late in the slot, who ripped a 40-foot wrist shot inside the goal post.
Gaudreau finished with a pair of assists to extend his point streak to six games (3-4-7).
Calgary briefly built up a two-goal lead late in the second period when Ruzicka neatly set up Mangiapane’s redirection in front at 15:32.
But just over a minute later, the Islanders got back to within one when Pageau got free in the slot and one-timed Zach Parise’s pass behind Markstrom.
The Flames got some insurance eight minutes into the third when Gudbranson scored his second of the season on a set-up from Milan Lucic. Calgary put the game away at 15:13 on Lindholm’s one-timer, which extended his goal streak to four and point-streak to six (4-3-7).
Ruzicka, 22, started the season in the minors and then had been in and out of Calgary’s line-up, but he’s played the last nine games and has five points over that span (two goals, three assists).
Notes: With six points tonight — one from each player — Calgary’s defence has combined for 23 points in the last four games… The Islanders emergency back-up was Calgarian Colin Cooper, 27, who formerly played for Mount Royal University. He stayed in the dressing room though and did not sit on the bench… New York forward Kyle Palmieri was a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game after returning to the team from a one-game paternity absence.