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Calgary Flames end season-opening drought with 5-3 win over Colorado Avalanche


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By Donna Spencer in Calgary

The Calgary Flames won their season opener for the first time in well over a decade with a 5-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

The Flames halted the NHL’s longest active winless streak in openers — 0-10-2 after their last win in 2009 — by scoring twice in the second and third periods.

Dillon Dube scored short-handed and defenceman Rasmus Andersson scored in the middle period. Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli contributed power-play goals in the third and Brett Ritchie also scored for Calgary.

Defenceman MacKenzie Weegar had a pair of assists. He joined Calgary’s other off-season acquisitions Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri and Kevin Rooney in their regular-season debuts for the Flames.

Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom, a Vézina Trophy finalist last season, made 22 saves for the win.

Defenceman Bowen Byram, Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin scored for Colorado. Pavel Francouz stopped 22 shots in the loss in his first start of the season.

The Avalanche had travelled overnight to play their second game in as many days. They raised the Stanley Cup banner and beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 at Ball Arena on Wednesday.

Kadri signed as a free agent with Calgary in August after three seasons with Colorado. Mere weeks after lifting the Cup with the Avalanche, the centre from London, Ont., met his former teammates wearing Flames red.

Kadri assisted on Calgary’s fourth goal and Huberdeau the fifth.

Lindholm and Toffoli scored power-play goals at 2:47 and 1:12 respectively, to start the third period, but MacKinnon countered at 3:08 on a breakaway and Nichushkin at 11:01 with a power-play goal.

Nichushkin cut the deficit on a give-and-go with Mikko Rantanen, who from behind the goal line fed the winger driving to the net.

With his famous turn of speed, MacKinnon went upstairs on Markstrom for Colorado’s second goal of the night.

Huberdeau at the side of the net froze Francouz and dished to Lindholm in the slot for Calgary’s fifth goal.

Toffoli deflected Kadri’s centring pass home and then took a high stick in the face from Cale Makar for another Flames power-play chance.

Calgary led 3-1 at 14:52 of the second period when Andersson collected a stretch pass from Weegar and scored five hole on a breakaway.

Dube scored short-handed at 3:31. He opted to shoot on a two-on-one with Andrew Mangiapane and beat Francouz far corner.

Rantanen had an open net to tie the game late in the second period, but put the puck off the post during a Colorado power play.

Ritchie pulled the hosts even at 11:23 of the first period. Milan Lucic from behind the goal line fed Ritchie in the slot to shovel the puck high by Francouz’s glove.

Andersson didn’t tie up Byram enough in the slot and the latter was able to flick the puck under Markstrom on Colorado’s first shot of the game at 1:39.

Toffoli had a good chance at the corner of Colorado’s net six minutes into the game, but Avs defenceman Devon Toews got his stick in the crease in time to keep the puck out of the net.

HELLO HUBERDEAU: Huberdeau’s contingent of friends and family at the Saddledome numbered over 30, including 22-year-old sister Josiane who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” followed by George Canyon’s “O Canada”.

BROTHERS’ BIG NIGHT: The Ritchie brothers combined for three NHL goals Thursday. Brett’s brother Nick scored twice for the Arizona Coyotes in a 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh.

NOTES: The Avalanche were minus captain Gabriel Landeskog because of a lower-body injury sustained last season. He underwent knee surgery in March, but returned for playoffs … Centre Mikael Backlund appeared in his 827th career game as a Flame, moving him past Robyn Regehr into third in franchise history behind Jarome Iginla (1,219) and Mark Giordano (949).

UP NEXT: The Flames head to Edmonton to face the Oilers on Saturday. Colorado stays on the road to meet the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2022.

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Flames bounce back with 5-1 victory over Ducks

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Calgary Flames right wing Tyler Toffoli (73) celebrates with goaltender Dan Vladar (80) after the Flames defeated the Anaheim Ducks in an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

By Joe Reedy in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Tyler Toffoli had three assists, Calgary scored twice on the power play and the Flames bounced back from a six-goal loss one night earlier with a 5-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

Toffoli has nine points in the past four games, including six assists.

Nick Ritchie, Troy Stecher, Rasmus Andersson, Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane scored Calgary’s goals. Mikael Backlund had a pair of assists and Dan Vladar stopped 19 shots for the Flames, who rebounded from an 8-2 defeat Monday night in Los Angeles.

“We just wanted to put that game behind us. And there’s no better way to put it behind you than to just go out there and play right away,” said Mangiapane, who scored on a breakaway with less than five minutes remaining for his 12th of the season. “I think the first period set the tone for us. We wanted to come out strong and hard and just keep building off of that.”

The win kept Calgary four points behind Winnipeg for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining after the Jets beat Arizona 2-1.

“As a coach it is really simple: I just want to keep every game meaningful,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said.

Frank Vatrano scored Anaheim’s lone goal. John Gibson made 38 saves, facing more than 40 shots for the 20th time this season.

“We knew that they were going to be a little ornery after their game last night against L.A., and other than a few spurts in the second period, maybe for about six minutes in the second, we couldn’t sustain much. Every time we turned, they were in our face,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said.

Calgary has 12 goals with the man advantage over the past month, which is fifth best in the NHL.

Andersson put Calgary up 3-0 less than three minutes into the third period on a one-timer off Toffoli’s pass. It was Andersson’s 11th goal and his third in the past six games.

The Flames grabbed the lead 37 seconds into the game when Ritchie put in the rebound after Gibson made a pad save on Noah Hanifin’s shot from the point. Ritchie’s 12th of the season marked the sixth time Calgary has scored in the opening minute.

Stecher broke a 90-game goal drought at 16:50 of the first with a snap shot from the right faceoff circle to the high side of the far post. Stecher — whose last goal was on Feb. 17, 2022 — has three points (one goal, two assists) since being acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline.

Anaheim got on the board five minutes later when Vatrano lifted a wrist shot over Vladar’s shoulder on his glove side. Vatrano’s 17th marked only the second goal in Anaheim’s last 15 power-play opportunities.

Lindholm scored his 21st and gave Calgary a 4-1 lead 46 seconds into the third on a one-timer.


Hanifin extended his point streak to six games with the first assist on Ritchie’s goal. He has six points (two goals, four assists) during that span. … Calgary defenceman Chris Tanev was scratched an hour before the game due to an upper-body injury. … Anaheim forward Nikita Nesterenko made his NHL debut. Nesterenko was acquired from Minnesota in the John Klingberg trade at the deadline. Nesterenko played three seasons at Boston College and signed a two-year, entry-level contract last Wednesday.


Flames: Open a three-game homestand against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.

Ducks: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

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2022 World Senior Men’s gold medalist rink and Cheryl Bernard among teams at Senior Curling Championships at Red Deer’s Pidherney Centre this week

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The 2023 Alberta Servus Credit Union Senior Men’s and Women’s Championships will take place at Red Deer’s Pidherney Centre on March 21 to 26.

Thirty-three rinks are on hand to vie for the right to represent Alberta at the Men’s and Women’s Canadian Championships next fall.

The 2022 World Senior’s gold medalists, Team Wade White looks to add yet another championship title to his name alongside teammates, third Barry Chwedoruk, second Dan Holowaychuk and lead George White. While defending Alberta champion, Team Pahl will keep the pressure on to represent Alberta once again.

Other noteworthy names on the men’s side include, Mickey Pendergast; Master’s Provincial Champion and former teammate of local legend, Rob Armitage, and 2017 Senior’s Champion, Glen Hansen.

The talent continues on the women’s side with nine of the top senior women’s teams in the province.

The star studded line-ups include Olympians, Cheryl Bernard, Carolyn McRorie, Sandra Jenkins and Shannon Kleibrink forming a team under Bernard, and Glenys Bakker and Atina Ford-Johnston skipping their own rinks, with Cory Morris joining Ford-Johnston as lead.

With defending champion, Diane Foster, out of the race, it truly is anyone’s title to claim.

Draws run throughout the week with the semi-finals of both the women and men at 9 am on Sunday March 26 followed by the finals at 2 pm.

Admission is free thanks to support from Servus Credit Union.

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