Flames burn Habs behind Monahan’s three points

It had been 14 months since Niklas Backstrom started a game in goal but if there was any rust, it didn’t show on the recently acquired Calgary Flame. The 38-year-old Backstrom stopped 21 of 22 shots as the Flames downed the injury-riddled Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Sunday night.

MONTREAL — It had been 14 months since Niklas Backstrom started a game in goal but if there was any rust, it didn’t show on the recently acquired Calgary Flame.

The 38-year-old Backstrom stopped 21 of 22 shots as the Flames downed the injury-riddled Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Sunday night.

It was his first appearance in goal since Jan. 13, 2015 with the Minnesota Wild.

“It was fun,” said Backstrom, who was acquired Feb. 29 by the Flames. “The guys in front of me played a great game to help me out a lot.

“It’s a long time since my last game so for sure there are some things I need to improve, but we got the win and that’s what we wanted.”

Sean Monahan had two goals and a helper while Dougie Hamilton had three assists for the Flames (31-35-6), who have points in four straight games heading into a meeting with the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday night.

The Flames end a three-game road trip Thursday night in Minnesota, where Backstrom is slated to start against his former team. He called that “special.”

One of his hardest shots came early in the second period when teammate Mark Giordano accidentally put a backhander at his own net, but he made the save look easy.

The two joked about it after the game.

“He just told me he wanted to have a shot on net,” said Backstrom. “I actually saw the puck was rolling. It was a tough play for him.”

“I asked if they count that as a shot against, to get his stats up,” said Giordano. “It was a funny moment.

“It wouldn’t be so funny if he wasn’t ready and it went in the net though.”

Joe Colborne and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for the Flames, who outshot Montreal 35-22.

Michael McCarron scored his first NHL goal for Montreal (33-34-6), which has lost four of its last five. It came in McCarron’s 14th NHL game.

The Canadiens trailed 4-0 when the six-foot-six centre planted himself in front of Backstrom and deflected a Nathan Beaulieu point shot at 12:57 of the third frame.

“Everyone was super excited for me,” said McCarron. “It only happens once.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted but it’s my first NHL goal and I was pretty excited.”

The Canadiens, coming off a 5-0 loss Saturday night in Ottawa, had allowed opponents 10 straight goals before McCarron scored.

The Flames got on the board 16:06 into the second period after Alex Galchenyuk was checked off the puck in the Calgary zone. The transition play saw Sam Bennett feed T.J. Brodie for a pass in front that was redirected by Colborne past Condon.

Nearly three minutes later, Monahan was alone at the edge of the crease to redirect a Hamilton feed.

The teams were each down a man when Monahan fed Gaudreau on the right side for a shot that trickled through Condon’s equipment at 10:38 of the third frame, and Monahan jammed one in from the side of the net on a power play at 12:21.

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