CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — The play of Alex Edler has the Vancouver Canucks on a roll.
Edler scored the overtime winner, had an assist and led both teams with more than 27 minutes of ice time as the Canucks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 Saturday night.
Just over three minutes into a back-and-forth overtime, Edler took a pass from Brock Boeser and his shot dribbled through the pads of David Rittich.
“I just tried to give it to (Boeser) and tried to create some space for him. No one picked me up and he made a great pass back to me,” said Edler, who has four goals and 11 points in 16 games since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for a month.
When Edler returned on Nov. 24, the Canucks snapped an eight-game winless skid by beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. With their ice-time leader back in the fold, Vancouver has been playing better, having gone 8-2-1 in its last 11 to climb to within one point of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
“He plays 26 minutes, 27 minutes for a reason. He’s doing a great job out there,” said goaltender Jacob Markstrom
Boeser and Elias Pettersson also scored for Vancouver.
The Canucks are 5-0-1 in their last six road games. Vancouver has four points through the first two stops of their six-game trip.
“It was a frustrating game,” Calgary’s Travis Hamonic said.
“You come up short in those games in overtime. It’s the end of December and these points are crucial. You see how tight the standings are right now. Everyone’s getting points around you, so you’ve got to keep pace.”
Mark Jankowski and Hamonic scored short-handed goals for Calgary. The Flames remain in first place in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of San Jose. The Sharks visit the Saddledome on Monday.
“We’ve been cute here recently. I think we’ve been too cute,” Flames coach Bill Peters said.
“Trying to pass it into the net, not willing to shoot it. I don’t think we shoot the puck enough off the rush. In overtime, we had two 2-on-1’s, nobody looked to be direct and be a shooter.”
Vancouver tied the game at 2-all at 11:37 of the second, when Pettersson broke down the right side and fired a 40-foot wrist shot past Rittich.
The Flames took their first lead of the game 8:46 into the second, when Hamonic, on a two-on-one, chose to hang onto the puck and beat Jacob Markstrom for his third goal of the season.
It was Calgary’s league-leading 12th short-handed goal, moving the Flames one ahead of the Arizona Coyotes.
The Flames tied the game 1-all at 14:30 of the first. Noah Hanifin broke in alone and while he was stopped by Markstrom, Jankowski shoveled in the rebound.
Jankowski, who also assisted on Hamonic’s goal, is tied with Arizona’s Michael Grabner for the league lead in both short-handed goals (four) and points (six).
Vancouver opened the scoring on the power play at 5:08. With Johnny Gaudreau off for slashing, Boeser sent a 25-foot wrist shot past Rittich, who was screened by Bo Horvat and didn’t appear to see the shot.
The Canucks’ improved penalty killing played a key role in the victory. Vancouver killed five penalties, including a 54-second, two-man advantage.
“You have five power plays, you’ve got to get at least one or two, and especially on home ice,” said Calgary center Sean Monahan. “It isn’t as sharp as it needs to be.”
The Flames’ power play is 1 for 18 in the last five games.
With a 31-save performance, Markstrom improved to 8-1-0 in his last nine starts. He’s 16-10-3 on the season.
Rittich, starting over veteran Mike Smith for the sixth time in seven games, made 24 stops. He is 12-4-3.
NOTES: LW Sven Baertschi (concussion, 30 games) and D Troy Stecher (concussion, 3 games) returned for the Canucks. … Rookie LW Dillon Dube, recalled earlier in the day from Stockton of the American Hockey League, dressed for the Flames, taking the spot of veteran LW Michael Frolik, who was a healthy scratch. … Calgary’s Mark Giordano played career game No. 792, moving ahead of Theoren Fleury and into sole possession of fourth in franchise history.
Canucks: At New Jersey on Monday.
Flames: Host San Jose on Monday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports