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Lindholm has 3-point night, leads Flames to 5-2 win over Canucks

Vancouver opens a two-game homestand Saturday against Seattle
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Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes, left, is checked by Calgary Flames forward A.J. Greer during third period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Elias Lindholm had a goal and two assists and Jonathan Huberdeau ended an 11-game scoring drought to lead the host Calgary Flames to a 5-2 win over the red-hot Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.

Mackenzie Weegar, Dillon Dube and Noah Hanifin also scored for Calgary (6-8-2), which improved to 4-1-1 in its last six games. Huberdeau added an assist.

Elias Pettersson and Nils Hoglander scored for Vancouver (12-4-1), which suffered its second loss in nine games. The Canucks blew an opportunity to leapfrog the idle Boston Bruins and move into first place in the league’s overall standings.

Vancouver defenceman Filip Hronek had his 11-game point streak come to an end.

Jacob Markstrom, who had 22 stops, has won three games in a row on the heels of a seven-game winless skid. He improved to 4-6-1 on the season.

With Vancouver on the back-end of a back-to-back, Casey DeSmith drew the start. The busier of the two goaltenders, DeSmith had 34 saves to suffer his first regulation loss. He’s 4-1-1 on the season.

After the visitors struck first halfway through the first period, the Flames roared back by scoring the next four goals.

Calgary pulled even at 17:53 when Weegar took a drop pass from AJ Greer and ripped a 40-foot wrist shot over DeSmith’s blocker.

The Flames took their first lead at 10:49 of the second period when Rasmus Andersson’s slapshot squeaked through DeSmith’s pads and Dube reached behind him to knock it over the line.

Calgary increased its lead to 3-1 with 36 seconds remaining in the stanza. In what would be the eventual game-winner, Hanifin carried the puck deep into the Canucks end and flung a shot inside the far post.

But the biggest ovation – and celebration — of the night came 5:53 into the third period when Huberdeau got a pass from Backlund and from the side of the net, zipped a shot under the crossbar. As he pumped his arms and the Saddledome crowd rose to its feet, Backlund gave Huberdeau a big hug.

Huberdeau, who’s in the second season of a US$84-million, eight-year deal, entered the game with just seven points in 15 games. Two seasons ago, he had a 115-point campaign with the Florida Panthers.

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After Hoglander’s goal at 10:06 cut Calgary’s lead to 4-2, Huberdeau assisted on Lindholm’s empty netter at 18:08. Lindholm had also been struggling, having gone pointless in nine of his last 10 games.

Off to its fastest start in franchise history, Vancouver opened the scoring at 9:36. Predictably, the goal came on the power play, which entered the game ranked No. 2 in the league and on a lethal 9-for-23 streak over the past five games.

Pettersson’s one-timer from the faceoff dot completed a slick passing sequence with Quinn Hughes and JT Miller. The puck was in the net befoe Markstrom could even attempt to move across the crease.

Those three Canucks entered the night in a three-way tie for the league lead in scoring with 26 points apiece.

ELITE COMPANY

Pettersson, Miller and Hughes are the first trio of teammates to have 26 points each after 16 games since 2005-06, when Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson, and Jason Spezza did it for the Ottawa Senators.

SIDELINED SCORER

The Canucks were without forward Andrei Kuzmenko, who left Wednesday’s game in the third period after taking a puck in the face.

Connor Garland moved up into Kuzmenko’s spot on Vancouver’s top line with Ilya Mikheyev and Pettersson. Linus Karlsson made his NHL debut.

UP NEXT

Canucks: Open a two-game homestand on Saturday against the Seattle Kraken.

Flames: Take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday to begin a three-game Eastern road swing.

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press