CALGARY — Mikael Backlund scored his first career hat trick on Thursday night to lead the Calgary Flames to a 7-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Backlund, who has a career-high 21 goals, scored once on the power play, once at even strength and another shorthanded. It’s been a red-hot second half of the season for the 27-year-old Swede, who only had five goals through his first 50 games.
Dougie Hamilton, Joe Colborne, Deryk Engelland and Sam Bennett also scored for Calgary (34-40-7). The win moves the Flames into 25th place overall, two points up on the Canucks and one ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, who were playing the San Jose Sharks later Thursday.
Nikita Tryamkin with his first NHL goal, Bo Horvat and Emerson Etem scored for Vancouver (30-38-13). The Canucks have lost back-to-back games after a three-game winning streak.
Backlund’s third goal with 52 seconds remaining in the second period was set up by a nice play by Matt Stajan. On a 2-on-1, Stajan sent a perfect saucer pass over the stick of Ben Hutton that landed on the stick of Backlund, who fired a high shot over Ryan Miller to make it 5-3.
As he stood with his arms thrust in the air in jubilation, hats came raining down from the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd.
Backlund had given the Flames a 3-2 lead 1:18 into the second, also coming on a Stajan pass. After mishandling the pass, Backlund, from below the goal line, banked the puck in off of Miller.
Etem’s goal at 6:54 tied it 3-3 but Colborne gave the Flames the lead for good at 11:54. Also enjoying a career-best season, Colborne’s scored his 19th when he deflected in Hamilton’s point shot.
Backlund opened the scoring at 2:47, converting a nice pass from Jakub Nakladal.
The Canucks tied it at 6:23 when Tryamkin’s shot from the blue line deflected off ex-Canuck Hunter Shinkaruk and slipped through the pads of Joni Ortio.
Horvat briefly gave Vancouver its only lead at 17:36 before Hamilton tied it 32 seconds later.
The Flames had the edge in shots 43-27.
Miller gave up seven goals for just the fourth time in his career and the first time since Feb. 13, 2011.
Notes: With Calgary owning the tiebreaker with the Canucks, Vancouver can no longer finish ahead of the Flames… With Lance Bouma (oblique) done for the season, Drew Shore was recalled from Stockton (AHL) and made his Flames season debut… Niklas Backstrom will start against his former team in Calgary’s final game Saturday in Minnesota.