MONTREAL — The Flames looked to a few of their youngsters to lead the way against the Canadiens — and they delivered.
Prospect Josh Jooris scored twice and Markus Granlund added another to lead Calgary to a 6-2 victory over Montreal on Sunday night at the Bell Centre. Rookie forward Johnny Gaudreau also added two assists.
Together, Jooris, 24, Granlund, 21 and Gaudreau, 21, combined for three goals, five points, and nine shots. They were sharp for much of the game, created havoc around Carey Price’s net, and were ultimately the difference-makers.
“All those young players had great training camps,’’ said Flames head coach Bob Hartley. “That’s where it starts. Last year we committed to a rebuild, and those kids are jumping in. Right now, we’re getting rewarded for our efforts.
“You have to spread the responsibility out there, and they’re responding well. They’re rewarding us.’’
Coming into Montreal, the Flames were looking to avenge a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of the Canadiens last Tuesday after Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored the winner in a shootout.
Harley’s men felt they deserved two points from that game after outshooting the Habs 38-19, and came into the Bell Centre on Sunday looking for a repeat performance with a different score line.
“We had a good game against them last game, so we were prepared,’’ said Jooris, who played 73 games with the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Heat last year. “We knew what to expect. We wanted to play the same way we did against them.’’
Calgary (7-4-2) came into this one — the team’s first stop of a five-game road swing — with just five first-period goals in their first 12 games. Jooris and Granlund, however, managed to put two past Price in the opening 20 minutes on Sunday.
Jooris, in just his sixth NHL game, got the ball rolling for the Flames at 4:58 of the first period. The Burlington, Ont. native gobbled up a juicy rebound in front of the net from a Dennis Wideman shot from the point, and patiently waited out Price to make it 1-0. Gaudreau was rewarded for an outstanding first period with an assist on the goal.
“It’s a loud building,’’ said Jooris of his first time playing at the Bell Centre. “The nerves were there, but it was good nerves. I was really excited to play here. It’s an exciting building to play in. Once we got the first shift in, we settled in.’’
Granlund, in is ninth NHL game, doubled Calgary’s lead with 27 seconds remaining in the first period when he deflected a shot from Jiri Hudler past Price with his toe.
Gaudreau, who was drafted by the Flames in the fourth round in 2011, got an assist on Granlund’s goal and now has eight points in his last seven games since being a healthy scratch versus the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 17.
Like Jooris, Gaudreau was quick to shake off the early Bell Centre jitters.
“There’s a lot of history here,’’ said the rookie, who had aunts and uncles make the drive from Vermont to watch the game from the stands. “We just looked at it as a great experience. We wanted to make the most out of it. The older guys led by example.’’
After Curtis Glencross and Max Pacioretty traded goals, Jooris added his second of the game at 8:48 of the third period to give Calgary a 4-1 lead. With the Flames on the power play, Jooris took a long stretch pass from defender TJ Brodie and walked in alone on Price, beating him top corner.
“With TJ, we like to play a fast-paced game, the full length of the ice,’’ said Jooris. “So I tried to get out of the zone quickly. With great vision he found me, and I was able to put it past Price. I tried to get it upstairs real quick.
“The fact that it was against a great goalie was pretty cool.’’
Lance Bouma and Mark Giordano added goals for the Flames, while Jonas Hiller stopped 18-of-20 shots.