Monahan leads Flames over Avalanche

CALGARY — Sean Monahan scored his team-leading 26th goal and added three assists Monday night as the Calgary Flames inched closer to clinching a playoff spot with a 4-2 victory over the floundering Colorado Avalanche.

With six games remaining, Calgary can clinch a playoff spot for just the second time in the last eight seasons with a regulation win over Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Micheal Ferland, Troy Brouwer and Johnny Gaudreau, with an empty-netter, also scored for Calgary (43-29-4), which has won nine of its last 10 games at home. The Flames remain fourth in the Pacific Division but are just one back of both the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks, who each hold a game in hand.

Sven Andrighetto scored both goals for Colorado (20-52-3), his second coming with 1:54 remaining and the goalie pulled. The last-place Avalanche have lost six games in a row overall and nine straight on the road.

Handed a power play 23 seconds into the game, Calgary immediately took advantage with Monahan’s shot deflecting in off the stick of defenceman Erik Johnson.

The score stayed that way until 4:33 of the second when Ferland took a feed from Gaudreau and fired in his 15th goal. That goal was the culmination of a stretch of extended pressure that began when Johnson coughed up the puck in the neutral zone leading to a 3-on-1.

The Avs got on the scoreboard at 3:06 of the third period on a power play when Johnson’s shot missed the net but Andrighetto swatted the lively rebound off the end boards past Brian Elliott.

Calgary restored its two-goal cushion less than two minutes later on a power play of its own. Off the rush, Monahan zipped a cross-ice pass across to Brouwer, who beat Calvin Pickard inside the goal post. Brouwer’s third goal in the last four games gives him 13 on the season.

Elliott made 24 saves to improve to 25-14-3. The Flames goaltender is 13-1-0 in his last 14 starts.

Pickard had 23 stops for Colorado to fall to 13-27-2.

Notes: Gaudreau’s assist was his 200th point, which comes in 226 games. It’s the fastest a Flame has reached that milestone in over 25 years… Flames rookie defenceman Rasmus Andersson, still awaiting his first NHL action, was a scratch for the ninth game since being summoned from Stockton (AHL)… Calgary improved to 31-0-1 when leading after two periods.

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