CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Mark Giordano has been defying his age all season.
The 35-year-old defenseman had three more assists Wednesday night and the Calgary Flames kept right on rolling with a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
“Just trying to put pucks on net, jump in when I can,” Giordano said. “Playing on a pretty good power play with pretty good players, trying to move the puck around to those guys and get it in their hands and when you do that with those types of players, they reward you.”
Mikael Backlund, Mark Jankowski, Elias Lindholm and Michael Frolik scored for Calgary (28-13-4), which is 6-1-1 in its last eight games. Matthew Tkachuk added an empty-net goal for the Flames, who have a two-point lead over Vegas atop the Pacific Division.
Giordano had the primary assist on Lindholm’s power-play goal that broke a 2-all tie at 12:57 of the second period and Frolik’s deflection that made it 4-2 halfway through the third.
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever met. I couldn’t be happier that I have a chance to play with him,” Frolik said. “He’s been unbelievable, especially this year. He’s really driving the bus on the back end now.”
Johnny Gaudreau added two assists for the Flames to extend his point streak to six games.
Giordano has 303 career assists, moving him past Joe Nieuwendyk into fifth on the franchise list.
Nathan MacKinnon ran his point streak to eight games with a goal for Colorado (20-16-8). Erik Johnson and Mikko Rantanen also scored as the slumping Avalanche dropped to 1-6-2 in their last nine games.
“We’re not finding ways to win right now, whether it’s a save at a key time or a goal at a key time,” said Gabriel Landeskog, who fired 12 shots on David Rittich — the most by an NHL player in a game this season. “We’re generating plenty of chances and we allowed only 16 shots. When you do that you’ve got to be able to win.”
Rittich, sharp all night, made 32 saves to improve to 16-4-3.
“He was awesome, again,” Giordano said. “It’s the timely saves that are huge, to be honest. When you’re tied or you’re up one and he’s keeping that same score line. He’s been doing it all year and again, another big night by him.”
Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, tested only 15 times, fell to 11-9-5.
“We have to help them more,” Rantanen said, defending Colorado’s goaltending. “It’s been our problem lately. Not just the last two games, even before that. We score enough goals to win, but we can’t give up seven or five goals every night.”
Colorado has been struggling to kill off penalties. Meanwhile, the Flames’ penalty kill had a big night, going 4 for 4 against an Avalanche team that came into the game ranked fifth with the man advantage.
“Our PK, the role is to shut it down so I think we did a pretty good job of that and trying to halt their momentum,” said Jankowski, who scored his seventh goal.
Frolik’s goal at 9:14 of the third, when he deflected in Giordano’s point shot, ended up the game-winner after Rantanen scored with 38 seconds remaining and the goalie pulled.
Calgary got off to a fast start when Backlund buried James Neal’s rebound at 5:34. The Flames doubled their lead five minutes later on Jankowski’s seventh.
But the Avalanche got back to even before the period ended.
Consecutive giveaways by Rittich and Monahan resulted in the Avs getting a tic-tac-toe goal from their top line with MacKinnon completing the passing sequence with Landeskog and Rantanen.
Johnson’s shot just inside the post tied it with 19 seconds left in the period, but the Avalanche came up short again.
“A little bit disheartening, playing two games like that on the road back-to-back against two really good teams and coming out with nothing. Because I thought for the most part that we were really good tonight,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “It feels like defensively we have to play a perfect game right now because we just aren’t getting any puck luck at the other end.”
Avalanche: Colorado is 0-2-0 on a five-game trip to Canada that continues Saturday night in Montreal.
Flames: Host the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
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