CALGARY â€” Mikael Backlund continues to be rewarded for his two-way game.
The Flames centre remained red hot, scoring for the fifth consecutive game as Calgary beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Wednesday night.
“My whole line have been playing really well,” says Backlund, who recorded his 200th career point. “When you get rewarded, the extra confidence jumps a little bit. I think we’ve been creating lots the whole year.”
Backlund made it six goals in his last five games at 17:20 of the second period when he fired home a Mark Giordano rebound for his team-leading 12th goal.
It is the longest goal streak for the Flames since Curtis Glencross scored in seven consecutive games from Feb. 27 to Mar. 11, 2012.
“He’s confident and everything that he’s putting towards the net is going in,” said Calgary head coach Glen Gulutzan. “He’s getting rewarded for the work he’s done prior. That line, they’ve played 200-foot hockey the right way from training camp until now. “
Backlund has played all season with Michael Frolik on right wing. For the past two months, rookie Matthew Tkachuk has played on the left side. With an assist, the 19-year-old has a six-game scoring streak going (one goal, six assists).
“This is the best I’ve seen (Backlund) in his career. That’s saying a lot because he has been really good the last couple years,” said Giordano. “Two-way centerman who doesn’t get the acknowledgment all the time because he doesn’t have the high-end numbers offensively. This year things are going in for him.”
Kris Versteeg, Alex Chiassson and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary (21-17-2). Giordano, TJ Brodie and Sean Monahan had two assists each. Chiasson also chipped in an assist for a two-point night.
Patrick Wiercioch was the lone scorer for Colorado (12-25-1), owner of the NHL’s worst record. The Avalanche have lost five in a row and 10 of their last 11.
Versteeg at 15:25, nine seconds into Calgary’s first power play, scored the only goal of the first period.
Forty-four seconds after Chiasson made it 3-0 at 13:25 of the third, Calgary made it three power-play goals when Gaudreau faked out Calvin Pickard and stuffed the puck inside the goal post.
“Special teams were a big part of the game obviously,” said Colorado coach Jared Bednar. “We’ve been undisciplined with our sticks and tonight you didn’t see much different and it ended up costing us a hockey game.”
Calgary’s power play has been on a real roll the last five weeks. Ranked 30th in the NHL at the end of November at 10.1 per cent (8 for 79), it has been the best in the NHL since that point, operating at 35.7 per cent (20 for 56) top climb to 10th.
“After 40 minutes, not the best five-on-five game we played all year, but we’re coming into the third with a 2-0 lead thanks to two power play goals. Special teams are huge in this league and our power play has been great,” said Chiasson.
Brian Elliott’s bid for his first shutout of the season ended with 1:25 left in the third period on Wiercioch’s third goal.
“We made stupid mistakes again,” said former Flames forward Joe Colborne. “We keep talking about it and we don’t execute. We shoot ourselves in the foot by taking penalties. It’s frustrating.”
Elliott was tested only 18 times in winning his fifth straight start to improve to 8-9-1. Pickard, finished with 33 stops to fall to 6-11-1.
Up next for the Flames, who have won four of their last five, is a home-and-home with the Vancouver Canucks that begins Friday at Rogers Arena.
Notes: Backlund ties Dallas’ Patrick Eaves and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for the second longest goal streak this season. Nashville’s James Neal had a six-game in November… Freddie Hamilton drew into the Flames lineup for the first time since Dec. 2… Since his opening game hat trick, Colborne has gone 29 games without a goal.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Backlund had seven goals in five games instead of six goals. A previous version also had an incorrect byline.