Giordano scores OT winner, Tkachuk strikes twice to lift Flames past Blackhawks

Flames 4 Blackhawks 3 (OT)

CALGARY — The recent promotion of Matthew Tkachuk onto Calgary’s No. 1 power-play unit is paying off.

Tkachuk scored twice Sunday, both on the man advantage, and Mark Giordano had the winner 52 seconds into overtime as the Flames edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3.

Calgary’s power play was in a 2-for-31 slump when coach Glen Gulutzan made some personnel changes to his top power-play unit on Thursday. One move was inserting Tkachuk into the role of net-front presence.

The Flames have gone 3-for-8 with the extra man in the three games since, including a perfect 2-for-2 against Chicago.

“I felt like we were getting a lot of zone time, a lot of second efforts on the power play, a lot of really good looks, so it was nice for it to go in,” said Tkachuk, whose first goal came at 19:58 of the opening period.

Tkachuk gave Calgary a 2-0 lead at 4:42 of the second on set play in which he got into open space and stuck his stick out, deflecting in a Johnny Gaudreau pass.

“They’ve been working on that one play in practice and they just missed it the other night and they hit it tonight,” said Gulutzan.

In addition to earning his power play ice time, the sophomore Tkachuk has also earned himself opportunities in overtime. He had a chance to win it just prior to Giordano’s winner.

“I’ve probably made Chucky wait the longest for his opportunity,” said Gulutzan. “It’s a big step for us to have a young guy that can play in all those situations and he’s earned it.”

Sean Monahan also scored for Calgary (19-16-4), which had lost five of its previous seven home games.

Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad each snapped six-game pointless skids with a goal and an assist for Chicago (18-14-6). Jordan Oesterle also had a goal and a helper. The Blackhawks extend their points streak against Calgary to 16 games (10-0-6), a streak that dates back to Feb. 2, 2013.

The Flames, who blew a three-goal lead, were ahead 3-2 after 40 minutes. But with 1:46 remaining and the goalie pulled, Toews won a faceoff back to Saad, whose quick shot deflected off the skate of Travis Hamonic and through Smith’s pads.

“Goals are going to happen. You just have to find ways to make the saves at important times,” said Smith, who had 34 stops. “Big goal by (Giordano) in overtime there and we go into the new year feeling good about ourselves.”

Chicago falls to 1-3-1 on its six-game road trip, which wraps up Wednesday in New York against the Rangers.

“We’ll take any point that we can get, but obviously we want to get both points especially at the position we’re in,” said Saad.

In the congested Western Conference wild-card race, Calgary pulled even with Chicago at 42 points. Anaheim, at 44 points, holds the final wild-card spot.

“You don’t ever want to give up three. That was a big hole to climb out of,” said Blackhawks goalie Jeff Glass, who made 35 saves in his second career start. “We did a good job to climb out of that hole.”

The Flames took a 3-0 lead at 5:47 of the second when Gaudreau set up Monahan, who snapped his nine-game goalless drought.

However, Chicago answered right back with goals 56 seconds apart.

Notes: Mikael Backlund played in his 500th career game… Andrew Mangiapane made his NHL debut for the Flames after being called up Sunday morning from Stockton (AHL). He played on the fourth line with Matt Stajan and Troy Brouwer… Giordano played career game No. 712, moving into 6th place on the Flames all-time list.

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