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Flames skate past Lightning for fifth straight victory

AP

The surging Calgary Flames got balanced scoring and another win.

Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist, Mike Smith made 33 saves, and the Flames beat the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.

“A big confidence boost for our group, and keeps the winning streak alive,” Smith said.

Micheal Ferland, Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski and Matthew Tkachuk also scored to help the Flames improve to 11-5-4 on the road. Gaudreau has nine assists and 10 points during a five-game points streak.

“A lot of guys were contributing chances and everybody was responsible defensively,” Tkachuk said.

Brayden Point scored for Tampa Bay.

The Lightning lost All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman midway through the second with a lower-body injury. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper offered no update but said Hedman will undergo tests Friday.

“We’ll see the extent of what’s wrong,” Cooper said. “No reason to speculate.”

Hedman was hit on the side of his left knee during a collision with Calgary’s Garnet Hathaway and needed assistance to the locker room. On Tuesday night against Carolina, Hedman could not put any weight on his left skate heading to the bench with three minutes left in the second but returned two minutes later.

Ferland opened the scoring 29 seconds into the game during a 2-on-1 off a pass from Sean Monahan. Ferland added an assist and has a four-game points streak (four goals, eight points), while Monahan has points in five straight (five assists, eight points).

After Point scored 31 seconds into the second, the Flames took a 3-1 lead on goals by Gaudreau at 16:48 and Bennett on the power-play 1:55 later.

Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette failed to score on a penalty shot at 5:15 of the second.

Jankowski and Tkachuk had third-period goals.

“Got two big goals at the end of the second to give us some breathing room,” Smith said. “Then, I thought that was one of the better third periods with a lead this year.”

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 19 shots.

Sabres 3, Blue Jackets 1

In Buffalo, Kyle Okposo had a goal and assist, and the Sabres snapped a five-game skid with a win over Columbus.

Benoit Pouliot and Jack Eichel, with an empty-netter with 6 seconds left, also scored. Linus Ullmark stopped 44 shots in his first NHL game of the season.

Ullmark stopped the first 39 shots he faced before having his shutout bid foiled on Artemi Panarin’s power-play goal with 6:15 remaining.

Buffalo ended an 0-4-1 skid and won in regulation for the first time in nine games. The Sabres’ last victory was a 4-2 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 22.

Hurricanes 3, Capitals 1

In Washington, Victor Rask broke a tie on a delayed penalty with 9:06 left to give Carolina a victory over the Capitals, hours after the team’s sale to Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon was finalized.

Rask scored with goalie Scott Darling pulled for the extra attacker after Tom Wilson was whistled for a penalty. The puck pinballed off several players in front and went to Rask at the side of the net.

By improving to 9-7-8 in one-goal games, the Hurricanes leapfrogged the idle Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins to move into a playoff position after 42 games.

Co-captain Jordan Staal also scored and Sebastian Aho added an empty-netter for Carolina.