Ruzicka has goal, assist as Flames beat Islanders 5-2
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Adam Ruzicka had a goal and an assist, and the Calgary Flames beat the New York Islanders 5-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.
Andrew Mangiapane, Elias Lindholm, Erik Gudbranson and Christopher Tanev also scored, and Johnny Gaudreau had two assists for the Flames, who have opened a seven-game homestand with three wins. Jacob Markstrom, making his 12th consecutive start, finished with 19 saves to improve to 20-10-5 on the season.
“We’re playing good hockey here at home,” Mangiapane said. “It feels nice to win at home and get the crowd involved. It’s fun to play here right now.”
For Ruzicka, it was the rookie center’s first career multipoint game.
“To be honest, I don’t really care about the points, I care about that we won the game,” he said. “Six in a row, that’s all that matters.”
Calgary climbed within one point of Vegas for first place in the Pacific Division. The Flames hold three games in hand on the Golden Knights.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist, and Noah Dobson also scored for the Islanders. Ilya Sorokin, getting a surprise start after Semyon Varlamov was placed into the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols during warm-ups, had 24 saves.
“Their (defense) is always active, so it makes it tough,” Islanders center Mathew Barzal said of the Flames. “Felt like we had a lot of 2-on-3s, 3-on-4s, just never any advantage on the ice it felt like. It’s a good hockey team over there, big and fast, good0 D that move and play a nice system. ... We had them 1-1 and just fell off it.”
Calgary struck first at 9:58 when defenseman Rasmus Andersson carried the puck in deep and around the net before centering a pass to Ruzicka, and he one-timed it into the top corner. He has three goals and three assist in 14 games this season.
“He’s playing better in his own zone,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said of Ruzicka. “I want him to handle the puck more, which he did tonight. ... He played a good game for us.”
The Islanders tied it up with 2:53 left on a power play when Dobson’s point shot deflected off Blake Coleman’s stick and eluded Markstrom.
The Flames regained the lead 61 seconds later on a setup from Gaudreau, who crossed the Islanders’ blue line, curled back to buy himself some time and space and fed Tanev coming late in the slot, and he fired a 40-foot wrist shot inside the goal post.
Gaudreau extended his points streak to six games (four assists and seven points).
Calgary briefly built up a two-goal lead late in the second period when Ruzicka neatly set up Mangiapane’s redirection in front with 4 1/2 minutes remaining. It was Mangiapane’s team-leading 24th.
“I saw him get open and I put the puck on his tape,” Ruzicka said. “He told me he didn’t know I was passing the puck so it hit him and I was fortunate it went in.”
Mangiapane added: “I was kind of battling in front there and I saw him pick the puck up and I had just kind of had my stick on the ice and he just hit it off my stick and it went in. ... He made a great pass.”
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).
Notes: With six points tonight – one from each player -- Calgary’s defense has combined for 23 points in the last four games. ... The Islanders emergency back-up was Calgary native 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.
Islanders: At Buffalo on Tuesday night to finish a four-game trip.
Flames: Host Columbus on Tuesday night in the fourth of a seven-game homestand.
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