With the playoffs looming, Dillon Dube continues to heat up for the Calgary Flames as a secondary scoring threat.
Dube scored twice and Elias Lindholm notched his 40th goal to lead the Calgary Flames to a 6-3 win over Vancouver on Saturday night, reducing the Canucks’ playoff hopes to just a flicker.
After scoring just four times in the first 45 games, Dube has 12 goals in his last 31 games, including six in his past six games.
“I just needed to be a lot better for this team going into the final stretch, I think,” Dube said. “Elevate my game to get ready for playoffs.”
Dube’s been thriving of late on a line with Calle Jarnkrok and Blake Coleman.
“He’s playing with a lot of confidence and not just lately. If you look at it, it’s probably since the all-star break,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter. “He’s his own worst critic and he listens, and I’m good with that.”
After a scoreless and penalty-free first period, the Flames surged in front 2:44 into the second period with a power-play goal.
Lindholm, who was clipped by a high-stick from rookie Canucks forward William Lockwood to draw the penalty, whipped a perfect shot into the top corner after being set up by Johnny Gaudreau.
Lindholm’s look skyward when the red goal light lit up showed his relief.
“Last game I had a lot of chances and he made a nice save in the first period. I felt at that point, I didn’t know if I was going to get another one this season,” said Lindholm, who had been stalled at 39 for the past three games.
His career-best had been 29 in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.
“Coming in, you always want to improve and, obviously, 30 has been a goal and a good number to reach,” Lindholm said. “Obviously I got that, so just had to keep going.”
Lindholm’s milestone goal comes one game after linemate Matthew Tkachuk reached the same number. Gaudreau, who had an empty netter, is at 39.
It’s the first time Calgary has boasted multiple 40-goal scorers in a season since 1993-94 when Gary Roberts (41), Theo Fleury (40) and Robert Reichel (40) all accomplished that feat.
With the Saddledome still buzzing, the Flames made it 2-0 on Dube’s goal 16 seconds later, one-timing a centering pass from Jarnkrok.
Brett Ritchie and Nikita Zadorov also scored for Calgary (49-20-10). The Flames, 9-1-1 in their last 11, have already locked up first place in the Pacific Division.
Quinn Hughes, Conor Garland and Emilio Pettersson had the goals for Vancouver (38-30-11), which loses both games on its two-game road trip that started off in Minnesota.
“Disappointed,” said Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau. “What are you going to do? I’ve been around long enough. It’s been a hard push, and we didn’t get to where we wanted to go.”
With three games remaining, the Canucks trail Nashville and Dallas in the Western Conference wild card race by six points. Vegas, two points ahead of Vancouver, is another team they would have to pass.
“There’s no quitting in that room,” added Canucks defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. “We’ve showed it so many times this year. Take it one game at a time and see where it takes us.”
After Hughes’ goal at 18:44 of the second cut the deficit to one, Garland got the Canucks back to even 5:36 into the third period.
But it was only tied for 14 seconds with Calgary’s fourth line producing the go-ahead goal. Chris Tanev’s point shot deflected in off Ritchie’s skate while he was jostling in front with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
It was the third goal of the season for Ritchie.
“Biggest goal tonight by far was Brett’s. Not even close,” Sutter said. “He’s a guy that I wanted back on our team last summer. I thought there was a spot for him. He’s had a couple injuries this year that has slowed him up, but I think he’s a guy that can effect the game when he plays. He can be an important guy at playoff time.”
Calgary then put the game away erupting for two goals 12 seconds apart.
At 13:33, Dube darted in off the wing and beat Thatcher Demko with a backhander into the top corner. That was followed by a Zadorov slapshot that squeaked through Demko’s pads.
With Jacob Markstrom getting the night off and not even in uniform, rookie Dan Vladar got the rare home start – just his third start at the Saddledome all season. He made 28 stops to improve to 12-5-2.
Demko had 25 stops. He falls to 33-22-7.
NOTES: Calgary is the first NHL team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have four players reach 35 goals – Tkachuk (40), Lindholm (40), Johnny Gaudreau (39), Andrew Mangiapane (35) … The Flames called up Dustin Wolf from Stockton (AHL) to back up Vladar.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2022.