By Jenny Masters
Sean Monahan had a goal and an assist and Jacob Markstrom made 20 saves as the Calgary Flames blanked the Flyers 4-0 for their sixth straight win, squelching a Flyers western sweep.
Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Backlund (empty net) also scored for Calgary (6-1-1).
Carter Hart made 32 saves for the Flyers (4-2-1). Claude Giroux was held pointless for the first time this season and his six-game point streak ended.
“It’s disappointing when the team puts an effort like that in front of (Hart) when realistically he’s the only reason it ended up the score it was. He made some unbelievable saves,” Flyers center Travis Konecny said.
The Flyers dropped the final game of their Western Canada road trip after picking up wins in Edmonton and Vancouver.
“You’ve got to give credit to where credit is due. They’re playing an extremely tight checking hockey game where there’s not a lot of room on the ice,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “When the team plays that way, you’ve got to make plays offensively. Your execution has got to be at its best and obviously they took that away from us tonight. They made it very difficult.”
After a tight-checking, scoreless first period in which Calgary outshot Philadelphia 8-4, the Flames turned it up in the second and had the Flyers continuously trapped in their own end.
The relentless pressure led to the Flyers taking two minor penalties — both infractions drawn by Tkachuk — and the second one, an interference penalty on Rasmus Ristolainen, proved costly as Monahan redirected a centering pass from Rasmus Andersson. The goal at 9:07 came on the 12th consecutive shot to open the second period.
It was the first goal of the season for Monahan.
The score remained 1-0 until Tkachuk gave the Flames some insurance at 8:30 of the third period, making it 2-0 on Calgary’s second power-play goal of the game, neatly converting a slick passing sequence with Elias Lindholm and Monahan.
After Backlund scored into an empty net, Gaudreau added his second of the season with two minutes remaining, beating Hart inside the goal post.
It was a dominant performance defensively from the Flames. The Flyers entered the game averaging more than four goals per game.
While centering Calgary’s fourth line with veteran wingers Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis has been a major change for Monahan, the Flames’ third-highest paid player at $6.3 million has remained on the team’s top power-play unit. Against the Flyers, that’s where he did his damage, scoring the eventual winner and setting up Tkachuk’s insurance goal in the third.
“It’s a team game and when you’re part of a team, you’ve got to accept your role and do the best job you can,” said Monahan, a three-time 30-goal scorer. “We’ve got a good team, we’re winning games, and I have no complaints.”
Coach Darryl Sutter is pleased with the way Monahan has handled his role with the club.
“He’s been awesome,” Sutter said. “He’s got a great attitude and works hard. I’ve said it many times including in the dressing room, we’re not a top-heavy line-up. We’ve got to spread it out and have everybody accept their role and then go from there.”
The Flames were coming off a five-game road trip in which they never trailed and won all games by a combined score of 21-7.
“It’s a good start. We’re in a good position so far, but I don’t think anyone is happy,” Markstrom said. “Everybody that was here last year remembers that sour taste of last season. It was not fun at all. Especially not winning hockey games. So everybody’s hungry.”
Coming off a 45-save shutout over Pittsburgh on Thursday, Markstrom earned his third shutout in his last four starts. The 31-year-old Swede improved to 4-1-1 with a .957 save percentage.
“The other night was more physical, but, mentally you were in it. You had a lot of shots and you can see a lot of pucks and you get to feel the puck,” Markstrom said. “Today was more mental. Just stay really focused and don’t get derailed. Watch our guys play a great game in front of me.”