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Gillies, Backlund lead Flames to 5-1 win over Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, right, of Russia, blocks the net on Calgary Flames' Matthew Tkachuk during third-period NHL hockey game action in Calgary, Alberta, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Michael Frolik took a pass from Mikael Backlund in the slot and fired a shot past goalie Semyon Varlamov just 18 seconds after the opening faceoff. The Calgary Flames didn't let up.

Jon Gillies made 28 saves for his second straight victory, Backlund had a goal and two assists and the Flames beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 on Saturday.

"I thought we had a good start," Backlund said. "We needed that, especially at home. We've been struggling with that. It was a very big win for us."

Troy Brouwer added a goal and an assist to help Calgary pass St. Louis for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. Mark Giordano and Sean Monahan also scored, and Matthew Tkachuk had two assists.

"We don't have a lot of time to waste as far as accumulating points to get ourselves into the playoffs," Brouwer said. "Anaheim's really starting to come on lately. L.A.'s made a trade and made themselves better. We have to make sure that we're keeping up with them and when we play them head-to-head we have to get wins. It doesn't really matter how we're getting points, we just need to keep accumulating points as much as we can."

Called up from Stockton of the AHL with starting goalie Mike Smith sidelined by a lower-body injury, Gillies made his second straight start and fourth appearance of the season. The 6-foot-6 former Providence College goalie beat Arizona 5-2 on the road Thursday night.

Before the game, Calgary placed Smith on injured reserve. He has missed six games.

Nathan MacKinnon scored for Colorado, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 shots. The Avalanche were 1-1-1 on a three-game trip.

"We give up one first shift of the game and then we're kind of chasing," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "To be honest, I liked our first period. We had all four lines skating and playing hard and we were on our toes and put up 15 shots. We had a handful of turnovers that ended up coming back on us."

Just past the five-minute mark of the first, Gillies stopped a shot by MacKinnon, then slid across to get his left pad on Tyson Barrie's rebound attempt.

Giordano made it 2-0 at 7:24 when he took Backlund's pass and fired a one-timer past Varlamov.

The Avalanche pulled within one on MacKinnon's goal with 3:36 remaining in the first. MacKinnon dumped the puck in and it bounced off the post and Gillies before trickling in.

"Nothing you can do about it, good or bad," Gillies said. "You just have to respond. If you want to classify it as a bad goal, OK, then you owe your team a save and that's the mindset you take on and go from there."

In the second, Gillies made a nice glove save off J.T. Compher during a Colorado power play.

Monahan deflected Michael Stone's point shot past Varlamov on the power play at 10:50 for his team-leading 29th goal. Calgary has scored at least one power-play goal in six straight games and eight of its last nine.

Brouwer snapped a shot to the blocker side past Varlamov at 2:39 of the third. Backlund scored Calgary's second power-play goal of the game at 14:46 to round out the scoring.

"The third period obviously wasn't one we wanted to see out of our group, but we'll regroup and rest up," Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said.

NOTES: The Flames ended a stretch of eight straight games where they allowed the first goal. ... The Flames recalled forwards Tanner Glass and Andrew Mangiapane from Stockton, and sent forward Ryan Lomberg back to the Heat.

UP NEXT

Avalanche: Host Vancouver on Monday night.

Flames: At Dallas on Tuesday night.

Updated February 24, 2018

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