CALGARY â€” Brian Elliott was a long way from being healthy but you couldn’t tell from his performance on Friday night.
Elliott, who is recovering from the flu, won his 10th game in a row and Mark Giordano led the offence with a goal and two assists as the Calgary Flames won 3-1 over the Dallas Stars.
Elliott wasn’t even in uniform two nights ago when the Flames had their 10-game winning streak snapped by the Boston Bruins. However, he declared himself good enough to play and he was nearly perfect on 25 shots faced.
“You’re not in a normal routine of eating and drinking and getting all the nutrients you usually get in, but I wanted to get back in there. It felt good to get another win,” said Elliott.
The wins have been frequent lately. He is 14-1-1 in his last 16 starts with a 1.87 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
“It wasn’t easy, but the guys made it a lot easier on me,” said Elliott. “When you get up three goals it’s pretty nice as a goalie to sit back there and have a little bit of a cushion.”
Elliott’s busiest period was the second when Dallas outshot Calgary 13-10 but the Flames scored the only two goals to surge in front 3-0.
“Big saves at big times. He looked really sharp,” said Giordano. “You could tell he was battling through. He wasn’t feeling 100 percent but he looked 100 percent.”
Bidding for his third shutout in four games, Elliott was finally beaten at 13:19 of the third when TJ Brodie mishandled the puck in front of his net and Brett Ritchie whipped it past the surprised goaltender.
Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik also scored for Calgary (40-27-4). The Flames, who are 12-1-1 in their last 14, jumped the Edmonton Oilers to move into third place in the Pacific Division.
Noticeably absent for Dallas (28-33-10) was captain Jamie Benn (upper body), who was hurt Thursday in Vancouver. Benn has been lethal at the Saddledome with 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) in his last seven games in Calgary.
“You take your top player out of the lineup and obviously it hurts,” said Jason Spezza.
Patrick Sharp was moved into Benn’s spot on the Stars’ top line with Spezza and Tyler Seguin.
“They are a good team, they play well together,” Dallas defenceman Dan Hamhuis said about Calgary. “They play their system well and wait for the other team to make mistakes and we made enough of them tonight to allow them to get goals.”
Calgary made it 2-0 at 5:20 of the second. After a stretch of prolonged pressure in the Stars end, Tkachuk neatly steered Giordano’s pass behind Kari Lehtonen for his 13th goal.
Three minutes later, Calgary scored again on a heads-up play by Tkachuk. Having knocked the puck out of the air with a high stick seconds earlier, the Flames rookie followed the puck into the Stars zone but didn’t touch it as play would have been blown dead.
As soon as Dallas’ Adam Cracknell tried to play the puck, Tkachuk promptly stripped it from him, knocking it back to Giordano, who flung a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that deflected in off the glove of Hamhuis.
Tkachuk, is tied for third on the team in scoring with 46 points.
“I just want to be part of a team that can make it to the playoffs,” said the 19-year-old. “Ultimately the goal is to win. Everybody is doing everything they can to make the playoffs.”
Notes: Flames D Michael Stone (shoulder) returned to the line-up after missing three games. Calgary has won all nine games he’s played in since being acquired from Arizona. That bumped veteran Dennis Wideman back to the press box… Backlund played his 451st game, passing Hakan Loob for the most by a European player in team history.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press