CALGARY — Sean Monahan has found himself in a reduced role this season, but as the Calgary Flames continue to rattle off wins, he has no complaints.
Monahan scored his first goal of the season and added an assist Saturday night as the Calgary Flames, backstopped by Jacob Markstrom's 20-save shutout, made it six consecutive victories with a 4-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Flyers.
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 $6.375 million has remained on the club's No. 1 power play unit. Against the Flyers, that's where he did his damage scoring the game-winner and setting up Matthew 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.”
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 with the second one proving costly. Monahan redirected past Carter Hart a perfect centering pass from Rasmus Andersson.
The goal at 9:07 came on Calgary's 12th consecutive shot to open the second period.
It was Monahan's 62nd goal on the man advantage since entering the NHL in 2013, which is tied for 23rd over that span.
“He's been awesome,” said coach Darryl Sutter on how he's handled the demotion. “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.”
Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Backlund, into an empty net, also scored for Calgary (6-1-1). The Flames sit atop the Western Conference standings.
The Flames were coming off a five-game Eastern road trip in which they never trailed and won all games by a combined score of 21-7. They still haven't trailed since their season-opening loss to Edmonton.
“It's a good start. We're in a good position so far, but I don't think anyone is happy,” said Markstrom, who has three shutouts in his last four starts. “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.”
Less busy than his 45-save shutout of the Penguins on Thursday – also a 4-0 victory for Calgary – Markstrom stopped all 20 shots faced. 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,” said Markstrom. “Today was more mental. Just stay really focused and don't get derailed. Watch our guys play a great game in front of me.”
Hart made 32 saves for Philadelphia (4-2-1). Claude Giroux was held off the scoresheet for the first time this season, seeing his six-game point-streak snapped.
"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,” said Flyers centre Travis Konecny.
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,” said Flyers coach Alain Vigneault. “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.”
Notes: Calgary defenceman Noah Hanifin (upper body) returned after missing one game. Also drawing back in after being a healthy scratch for the entire road trip was Nikita Zadorov. Juuso Valimaki came out of the Flames lineup... The Flyers fell to 0-2-0 when giving up the first goal. They are 4-0-1 when scoring first... Sean Couturier's four-game point streak (4-3-7) came to an end.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2021.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press