CALGARY â€” Matt Stajan didn’t have to do much work to end his goalless drought.
Stajan’s first goal in 14 games was the game-winner and Chad Johnson made 28 saves as the Calgary Flames built up an early lead and hung on for a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday to split their home-and-home series.
After Alex Chiasson opened the scoring at 14:26, Stajan made it a two-goal lead just 1:03 later going to the net and steering in Garnet Hathaway’s hard centring feed for his fifth goal.
“I just have to make sure I get my stick on it,” says Stajan. “It’s a game of inches. He put it in the right spot and I was able to get it by.”
Stajan has 16 points on the season, one back of his total in 80 games last year.
“He has contributed a lot,” said coach Glen Gulutzan about his veteran fourth-line centre. “Our penalty kill has done a lot better in the last month and he’s a big part of that. He is a leader in our locker room and I’m happy for him.”
That was all the support Johnson would need, despite being significantly busier than Brian Elliott on Friday when Vancouver won 4-2, despite being outshot 46-13.
Vancouver had a great chance to tie it, getting a power-play chance with five minutes remaining in the third. But despite peppering Johnson with four shots, they could not beat him. Sven Baertschi, Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter were all thwarted on great chances.
“We played a good game yesterday and probably deserved better and couldn’t score on (Ryan) Miller,” said Johnson, who had lost his previous four starts. “Tonight we wanted to stick with it and be confident in our game. It was fun.”
Johnson was busiest in the second period when the Canucks fired 13 shots on him but only Bo Horvat with his team-leading 13th goal could solve him.
“Biggest factor for us tonight was our goalie,” said Gulutzan. “He was real polished, real calm, real steady and made some huge saves.”
Johnson won for the first time since Dec. 10 and improved to 14-8-1. He had lost his last four starts while seeing Elliott get most of the playing time.
After surviving the late penalty kill, Michael Frolik put the game away with a breakaway goal at 18:10.
He was sent in alone on a terrific pass from rookie Matthew Tkachuk, who extended his point streak to nine games (one goal, nine assists). It is the longest point streak by a rookie this season.
Calgary (22-18-2) has won four of its last five at home. Vancouver (20-19-3) had its six-game winning streak come to an end.
“We had so many chances. I thought we played a heck of a game considering our injuries and the back-to-back,” said Horvat, who extended his point streak to seven games (three goals, five assists).
The Canucks were forced to dress just five defencemen due to upper-body injuries to Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev suffered Friday night.
“It’s always tough when key guys go down but it’s an opportunity for someone else to step up and play more,” said Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler, who played a game-high 27:25.
Vancouver also switched goalies, giving Miller a rest. Jacob Markstrom had 28 stops to fall to 8-9-2.
“We got some bounces yesterday and we didn’t get them today,” said Markstrom.
Notes: Mikael Backlund saw his six-game point streak end… One of the Canucks defenceman was Alex Biega, who had been scratched the past six games… Anton Rodin dressed for Vancouver as the 13th forward but didn’t play a shift… Calgary improves to 16-0-1 when leading after two periods… Canucks RW Alex Burrows returned after missing Friday due to illness.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press