Calgary Flames finish the job against New York Islanders in 4-1 win

CALGARY — The Calgary Flames didn't let another game against the New York Islanders get away from them.

Leading 3-1 after two periods, which the Flames also did in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders at USB Arena on Nov. 7, Nazem Kadri's audacious shot for an improbable goal salted away a 4-1 victory Friday night at the Saddledome.

"I think we've grown. We're learning the importance of managing games," Flames forward Blake Coleman said.

Coleman, Milan Lucic and Nikita Zadorov also scored for the Flames (19-14-7).

Goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 23 saves, including stops on a pair of Islander breakaways in the second period, for his second win in three straight starts.

Zach Parise replied for the Islanders (22-17-2), who played their second game in as many nights and were minus points leader Mathew Barzal.

Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 17 shots in his first start since Dec. 17 when he suffered a groin injury in a game against Vegas.

Barzal, who has 11 goals and a team-leading 30 assists, didn't play Friday after scoring his fifth goal in as many games in the previous evening's 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

He participated in pre-game warmup but the Islanders tweeted just before puck drop that Barzal was day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

"There was a little tweak last night," Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. "He tried it in warmup. Couldn't go."

Both clubs neared their halfway mark of the regular season in similar positions, which was jostling for wild-card berths in their respective conferences.

The Flames inched ahead of the Oilers by a point into the West's first wild-card spot with their victory.

The Islanders held down the East's second wild-card berth two points up on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Points are huge for us especially because of where we are in the standings," Lucic said. "Two months ago we were just hoping to win the game instead of going out there in the third and playing to win.

"That's what good teams do when they have leads going into the third period. They press and play to win and that's something we need to keep getting better at."

Kadri, who will represent the Flames at the all-star game later this month in Sunrise, Fla., scored at 6:59 of the third period with a sharp-angled shot that sneaked through a small opening under the crossbar and by Varlamov's head.

"It was just one of those ones where, he was trying to do it, so it's nice to see it go in, especially in a three-one game to extend the lead," Lucic said.

Markstrom kicked out his right pad to stop Casey Czikas on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box midway through the second period. He then repelled Jean-Gabriel Pageau two minutes later on a short-handed breakaway.

"It was huge," Lucic said. "I don't think we were having a very good period at that time and he kept it a two-goal lead and a two-goal lead going into the third.

"It's good to see him finding confidence in his game as well, and we need him to be good every night to give us a chance to win."

His team trailing 3-0, Parise got the Islanders on the scoreboard with a minute remaining in the opening period.

Parise beat Zadorov to open up scoring lane and fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle top corner for his 12th of the season.

Zadorov lofted a shot from the point over Varlamov's left shoulder at 14:21 of the first period.

Calgary scored twice in under two minutes starting at 4:36 when the Islanders turned the puck over in their zone. Jonathan Huberdeau dished to Lucic for a one-timer from the faceoff circle on Varlamov's right.

Varlamov made an initial stop on Coleman's backhand off the rush, but the latter collected his own rebound and shovelled the puck past the Russian from a sharp angle at 6:05.

UP NEXT

The Flames kick off a five-game road trip Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Calgary is 7-7-5 on the road this season.

After a (2-2) road trip to start 2023, the Islanders return to USB Arena for a five-game homestand starting Tuesday with the Dallas Stars.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2023.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press