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Johnny Gaudreau's hat trick sends Flames to 4-1 victory over Lightning

Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, left, makes as Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat looks for a rebound during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal) Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, left, makes as Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat looks for a rebound during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary on Thursday, March 10, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal)

Hats raining down onto the ice, chants of "Johnny, Johnny" from the raucous home crowd, it was a night of big goals and cool moments for Johnny Gaudreau on Thursday.

In the midst of a career season, Gaudreau notched his sixth career three-goal game to lead the red-hot Calgary Flames to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"It's awesome. It's a really cool feeling," said Gaudreau, who in his eighth season in Calgary, is also in the final year of his contract. “It's even cooler feeling when you've got all the fans chanting your name. It's pretty special. I don't take those for granted, it was a pretty cool moment."

The 28-year-old left-winger leads the team with 26 goals and 77 points. Thirteen of those points (six goals, seven assists) have come in these last seven games, a torrid stretch that has him up to fourth in league scoring behind Jonathan Huberdeau (18-64-82), Connor McDavid (30-51-81) and Leon Draisaitl (38-41-79).

He's on a pace for 111 points, which would be a career-high. His best season was 99 points in 2018-19.

"Those are momentum goals, all of them," said Flames coach Darryl Sutter, of Gaudreau's first hat trick since March 12, 2019. "That's what the top guys do in this league."

Mikael Backlund also scored for Calgary (35-15-7), which improves to 15-2-1 in their last 18. The Flames are 13-1-1 in their last 15 games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Alex Killorn scored for Tampa Bay (37-14-6), which lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season.

"Teams go through tough stretches all the time. We're going through a little bit of a bump right now," said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. "We'll correct it. But it's process over outcome at this point. Today was a start. That's a good team over there and they capitalized on their chances. Sometimes you've got to give the other team credit, too."

Halfway through their season-long six-game road trip, the Lightning will try to turn things around on Saturday when they take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.

"At the end of the day it's about us and working hard. I thought tonight we did some really good things. They capitalized on our mistakes and that was it,” said Tampa Bay winger Corey Perry.

Turning in a terrific performance in net for the Flames was Jacob Markstrom, who made 30 saves to improve to 27-11-6.

"It's always fun to play the teams that in the top and Tampa is a team that has been at the top for a long time, but you know, it still is two points. Nothing more, nothing less," said Markstrom.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had 28 stops for Tampa Bay. He falls to 30-11-4.

With the goaltenders taking turns making great save after great save, the game was a 1-1 approaching the final minute of the second when the Flames erupted for two goals.

At 19:00, and on a play reminiscent of his goal in the first period, Gaudreau corralled a loose puck to the side of the net and from below the goal line, banked a shot off Vasilevskiy and in.

"On that first power play goal, (Vasilevskiy) was out of his net, he wasn't on the post and I tried to bank it off his butt. The second one was just pure luck, I just threw it right back in front of the net and it went off his hip or something," said Gaudreau.

Calgary surged ahead 3-1 with eight seconds left when Backlund steered in Erik Gudbranson's hard low pass into the slot. Gudbranson's assist gives the 30-year-old defenceman a career-high 14 points.

"We should've been content going to the room 1-1, and then trying to impose our will in a 1-1 game. Instead we go to the room down 3-1, and now you're putting yourself in a position to have to score yourself out of a game again," said Tampa Bay coach, Jon Cooper. "That's not our recipe. It's not a winning recipe. You have to defend your way to win hockey games. They did, we didn't tonight."

Gaudreau capped off his big night at 13:44 and this goal more conventional, taking a pass from Elias Lindholm and one-timing a shot past Vasilevskiy.

The only puck to elude Markstrom was Killorn's deflection at 15:40 of the second that briefly tied it 1-1.

Notes: Linesman Jason Marquis had to be helped off the ice and didn't return after he was struck in the helmet by a shoot-in attempt by Calgary's Trevor Lesis at 6:16 of the second. ... Tampa Bay falls to 9-2-1 against the Pacific. The Lightning are 22-1-4 when they score first, but just 15-13-2 when they allow the first goal. ... The Flames last win at home against the Lightning had been Jan. 5, 2016.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2022. Top Stories

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