CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Tyler Myers led the way as the Vancouver Canucks’ power play made the difference against the Calgary Flames.
Myers scored twice and added an assist — all in the first period — as the Canucks built an early lead and beat the Flames 5-2 Sundy night for their fifth straight win.
“I’ve been around long enough to know now they come in bunches,” said Myers, who matched a career high with his fifth two-goal game in his 11 NHL seasons.
Myers opened the scoring on a power play 3:29 in, scoring his second goal of the season on a 55-foot wrist shot that beat a partially screened Calgary goalie David Rittich. It marked the sixth game in a row that Vancouver scored first.
Just over three minutes later, Myers struck again from the same distance, again on a wrist shot, only this time it came with nobody in front, his low shot squeaking through Rittich’s pads.
Tanner Pearson also scored twice and Jake Virtanen had a goal to help Vancouver move past Calgary and Arizona into second place in the Pacific Division. The Canucks are tied in points with the Coyotes, but have a game in hand.
“I really liked our game tonight. Right from the start I thought we played simple, direct hockey,” Myers said. “Played fast on the special teams. Played direct. We have to realize that type of game is going to give us success.”
Thatcher Demko, making his first start since Dec. 7 with Jacob Markstrom having started the last nine games, finished with 23 saves to improve to 8-4-1.
“Obviously our first goal of the year is to get into the playoffs,” Demko said. “You have to be good all year. You can’t turn it on late. You’ve got to be solid throughout the season. Staying in the mix and getting back up towards the top of the Pacific is huge for us.”
Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin scored for Calgary, which has lost four straight at home. David Rittich was pulled after giving up three goals on seven shots over the first 10:52. Cam Talbot finished with 19 saves in relief.
“For whatever reason, they were more prepared to start than we were,” Flames interim head coach Geoff Ward said. “We got outworked early, we got out-executed early, then we found ourselves in a hole and then you start chasing the game.”
Virtanen extended the lead to 3-0 when he struck on the power play yet again. The Flames entered the night with the league’s second-best penalty kill but Vancouver’s fourth-best power-play was 2 for 2 early as Virtanen’s shot deflected in off Calgary defenseman Travis Hamonic’s stick.
“We’ve got to get used to playing with the lead and not take our foot off the gas pedal, keep playing our game for a full 60 (minutes) when we have the lead, kinda stomp on their throats,” Pearson said.
That goal ended the night for Rittich, who was pulled for the second time this season.
“I was mad, not at my teammates. I was mad at myself,” said Rittich, whose record fell to 17-9-5. “I let three goals in. It wasn’t a good game by me.”
Calgary finally got on the scoreboard with 1:24 left in the second period. While the teams were playing 4-on-4, Andersson jumped into the rush and neatly buried a rebound of Sean Monahan’s shot.
The Canucks restored their three-goal cushion at 6:14 of the third when Pearson collected the puck in front, spun and sent a shot over Talbot’s shoulder.
Vancouver finished 2 for 5 on the man-advantage while Calgary was 0 for 3.
“We put them on the power play too much,” said Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, who had two assists. “We knew they had a good power play. We wanted to stay disciplined and it didn’t happen tonight.”
NOTES: Miikka Kiprusoff, the Flames’ all-time wins leader, was in attendance. Living in Finland since retiring, he got a standing ovation when he was introduced and there were chants of “Kipper, Kipper.” … Calgary LW Sam Bennett was a healthy scratch. He has no points in his last eight games. … Canucks have scored 45 first period goals, which leads the NHL. Flames are last with 24.
Canucks: Host Chicago on Thursday night to open a two-game homestand.
Flames: Host Chicago on Tuesday night before wrapping up a three-game homestand against the New York Rangers on Thursday.