Wild Breakaway: Minnesota starts strong, struggles late in loss to Flames
CALGARY, Alberta — Rasmus Andersson scored a tiebreaker at 15:57 of the third period and had two assists as the Calgary Flames rallied to beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3 on Wednesday night.
“Obviously not the start we wanted,” Andersson said. “First 10 minutes weren’t good enough, but we got a little bit of momentum toward the end of the first that we carried with us to start the second.”
Tyler Toffoli scored twice, including an empty-netter, and Nazem Kadri and Blake Coleman added goals for Calgary. Elias Lindholm had three assists for the Flames, who won their third straight. Calgary earned eight points during a five-game homestand and now heads out on a three-game trip.
“Getting frustrated is natural, but you’ve just got to go out there and do something about it,” Kadri said of the team's bad start. “I’m proud of the way we bounced back, especially the start of that second period. That was exactly what we want to see.”
Making his sixth start in the last eight games, Dan Vladar gave up two goals on his first three shots. He settled in and finished with 25 saves and earned his fourth straight victory, improving to 5-4-1 this season for Calgary.
Kirill Kaprizov extended his goal streak to an NHL-leading seven games for the Wild. Mason Shaw and Jon Merrill also scored for Minnesota, which had its four-game winning streak halted. Marc-Andre Fleury had 22 saves as his record fell to 9-6-1.
“I think we’ve got to find a way when we’re ahead to stay calm but still play with the pace (and) still be aggressive out there,” Fleury said. “Got to make a few saves, too, and help the guys out.”
The Wild were trailing 3-2 when they tied it at 15:45 as Merrill’s point shot deflected in off the stick of Flames defenseman Chris Tanev.
But 12 seconds later, a Wild turnover behind their net ended up on the stick of Andersson, who cut across the crease and used his backhand to put the puck just inside the post.
Kaprizov came into the game with 19 points in his last 12 games. He extended his point streak to 13 games when he tipped in a point shot by Matt Dumba 1:27 into the game. Both of Kaprizov’s streaks are franchise records.
“It’s a credit to my teammates that I play with. If it wasn’t for them, none of this would be possible, so thank you to them,” Kaprizov said. “Ultimately at the end of the day we want to win as a team. This is a team game and the win is more important than a personal record.”
Less than a minute later, the Wild broke out on a 3-on-1 with Shaw scoring off a pass from Connor Dewar.
But the Flames overcame the Wild’s fast start in the first period with a better start to the second.
“It’s likely the best start that we’ve had,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “They weren’t in the hockey game. We were engaged, we were rolling our lines.”
On a power play that carried over from the first period, Kadri got Calgary on the scoreboard just 16 seconds in, redirecting Lindholm’s pass past Fleury.
Coleman tied it after a goalmouth scramble at 1:37.
The Flames moved in front at 3:11 with another power-play goal and another deflection. Toffoli got a piece of Andersson’s slap shot from the blue line.
After a seven-game stretch in which the Flames’ power play was 2 for 21, they’ve scored two goals in each of the last two games, going a combined 4 for 9 during that span.
Minnesota: At Edmonton on Friday in the third game of a four-game trip.
Calgary: At Columbus on Friday in the opener of a three-game trip.