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Flames find a way to ground Flyers in 4-3 thriller

Slumping left-wingers Andrew Mangiapane, with three assists, and Jonathan Huberdeau, with the other helper to snap a 12-game pointless skid, combined for all four primary assists on Sunday night as the Calgary Flames outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3.

Mikael Backlund, Dennis Gilbert, Nazem Kadri and Blake Coleman scored for Calgary (15-16-5).

Rasmus Ristolainen, with his first of the season, Bobby Brink and Egor Zamula scored for Philadelphia (19-12-5). The regulation loss snaps the Flyers’ nine-game road points streak, which had been their longest such streak since 2005-06 when they had a 12-0-2 streak.

Making his fifth consecutive start, Jacob Markstrom had 27 stops to improve to 9-10-2.

Sam Ersson had 28 saves for the Flyers. He falls to 9-5-2 on the season. He entered the night 8-1-1 in his previous 10 starts.

Tied 1-1, the Flames took their first lead at 7:29 of the third period when Huberdeau threaded a pass across the slot to Gilbert skating in from the blue line and he ripped a high shot past Ersson for his first goal of the season.

Kadri on a two-on-one made it a two-goal lead at 14:29, but there was still lots of scoring to come.

With the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Brink scored at 16:36 to get the visitors back within a goal.

Coleman’s empty-net goal at 17:42, set up by Mangiapane, restored the two-goal cushion and that would end up being the winner as, with the goalie pulled again, Zamula scored at 18:36 setting up a thrilling finish.

The Flyers opened the scoring at 9:44 of the first period when Ryan Poehling got the puck in the corner and spotted Ristolainen sneaking in from the blue line and he set up the defenceman with a perfect cross-ice pass that he fired into the open net before Markstrom could get across.

The score remained that way thanks to some stellar goaltending at both ends of the ice until Calgary tied it at 18:21 of the second period.

From the same spot on the ice where Poehling set up the opening goal, Mangiapane sent a pass into the slot that Backlund one-timed over Ersson’s glove from 20 feet out.

Mangiapane was back on a line with Backlund and Blake Coleman for this game after coach Ryan Huska flip-flopped the lines for Mangiapane and Jonathan Huberdeau, both in extended slumps.

Mangiapane had just three points (one goal, two assists) in his previous 12 games while Huberdeau had gone that many games without any points.

Huberdeau joined Elias Lindhom and Yegor Sharangovich and that new-look trio created three good scoring chances in the first period, only to be thwarted by Ersson.

Sloppy puck management by the Flames in the second forced Markstrom to make a couple of key stops to keep Calgary within a goal.

Just over a minute in, MacKenzie Weegar’s errant pass went right to Morgan Frost in front, but he was stopped by Markstrom. Later in the period, Gilbert was stripped by Frost, freeing the puck to Cam Atkinson, who moved in and had his first shot stopped and also the rebound turned away.

The Flyers fall to 16-2-2 in games in which they score first.


Flames’ right-winger Blake Coleman played in his 500th NHL game. He’s just the fourth player from the state of Texas to reach that milestone. He’s on pace for a career best season with a team-leading 13 goals and 13 assists through 36 games.


In addition to the changes up front, the Flames also broke up the D pairing of Rasmus Andersson and MacKenzie Weegar, who have been together most of the season, and played Andersson with Gilbert while Weegar lined up alongside Jordan Oesterle, who returned after missing four games as a healthy scratch.


Calgary and Philadelphia entered the night as co-leaders in short-handed goals with nine, the Flames led by Coleman’s four SH goals while Travis Konecny had four to lead the Flyers.


Flyers: Wrap up their four-game road trip in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Flames: Begin a four-game road trip on Tuesday in Minnesota.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2023.

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