CALGARY—The recent promotion of Matthew Tkachuk onto Calgary’s No. 1 power-play unit is paying off.Tkachuk scored twice and Mark Giordano scored 52 seconds into overtime to lift the Flames over the Blackhawks 4-3 on Sunday night.Calgary’s power play was in a 2-for-31 slump when coach Glen Gulutzan made some personnel changes to his top unit on Thursday. One move was inserting Tkachuk into the role of net-front presence.The Flames have gone 3 for 8 with the extra man in the three games since, including a perfect 2 for 2 against the Hawks.Tkachuk gave Calgary a 2-0 lead at 4:42 of the second on a set play in which he got into open space and stuck his stick out, deflecting in Johnny Gaudreau’s pass.
”They’ve been working on that one play in practice and they just missed it the other night and they hit it tonight,” Gulutzan said.
In overtime, Mikael Backlund sent a pass back to the blue line where Giordano took a couple strides and fired a shot into the top corner on Jeff Glass. It helped Calgary salvage a win after Brandon Saad tied it with 1:46 left in the third period.Sean Monahan also scored for Calgary, which had lost five of seven home games. Mike Smith turned away 34 shots.Jordan Oesterle and Jonathan Toews also scored for the Blackhawks,who extend their points streak against Calgary to 16 games (10-0-6), a streak that dates to Feb. 2, 2013. Glass finished with 35 saves.
”We’ll take any point that we can get, but obviously we want to get both points especially at the position we’re in,” Saad said.
Toews and Saad also had an assist and each snapped six-game pointless streaks.Saad tied it with the goalie pulled. Toews won a faceoff back to Saad, whose quick shot deflected off the skate of Travis Hamonic and through Smith’s pads.”Goals are going to happen. You just have to find ways to make the saves at important times,” Smith said. ”Big goal by (Giordano) in overtime there and we go into the new year feeling good about ourselves.”
The Flames took a 3-0 lead 1:05 seconds later with Gaudreau again orchestrating the setup, this time to Monahan in front, who snapped his nine-game goalless drought.The Bears answered right back with two quick goals.Shortly after the Blackhawks’ power play expired, Oesterle’s point shot eluded Smith, who was completely screened by Ryan Hartman and did not move on it until it was coming back out of the net.Oesterle has goals in two straight games. He went the first 36 games his career without a goal until scoring in the 4-3 win over Edmonton on Friday.Fifty-six seconds later, Oesterle was in the middle of things again, his point shot was kicked out by Smith but Toews buried the rebound.With Corey Crawford (upper body) sidelined, Glass, a Calgary native, made his second-straight and second career start forthe Bears and was solid again.
NOTES—Backlund played in his 500th career game. … Andrew Mangiapane made his NHL debut for the Flames after being called up Sunday morning from Stockton (AHL). He played on the fourth line with Matt Stajan and Troy Brouwer. … Giordano played career game No. 712, moving into 6th place on the Flames all-time list.Play at the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.