Nils Hoglander scores twice, Canucks beat Flames 4-2 to tie Rangers for NHL lead

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Nils Hoglander scored twice, Casey DeSmith stopped 22 shots and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 4-2 on Saturday night for a share of the NHL lead.

Vancouver won its third straight to improve to 45-18-8, good for 98 points and a tie with the New York Rangers atop the NHL standings. In the Western Conference, the Canucks are three points ahead of Colorado and Dallas.

DeSmith, making his fifth straight start in place of the injured Thatcher Demko, improved to 11-5-6. J.T. Miller added his team-leading 34th goal, Elias Lindholm scored into an empty net, and Elias Pettersson and Conor Garland each had two assists.

“We faced a good opponent in a rivalry game and I thought we really took it to them,” DeSmith said. “I can’t say it enough, the way we finished out the game.”

Rasmus Andersson and Joel Hanley scored for Calgary, and Jacob Markstrom made 22 saves in his return from a lower-body injury. The Flames hadn't played since falling 5-2 at home to Washington on Monday night.

“After the first 10 minutes I thought we were better and better. We kind of grew into the game,” Andersson said. “We knew they were going to come in hot and we haven’t played for a few days either so maybe that was a little in the back of our head.”

Hoglander opened the scoring 48 seconds into the game with a tip-in, and made it 2-0 at 8:16 of the second period with his 22nd goal.

“My first day here I couldn’t believe how good he was, three years ago,” Garland said about the 23-year-old Hoglander. “And I think he’s just really found his game all around the ice.”

On the second-period goal, Garland deflected Connor Zary’s pass to Elias Pettersson in the neutral zone and the center passed off to Hoglander as they broke into Calgary territory. Hoglander pulled the puck to his backhand and flicked a shot in over Markstrom.

“I just tried to get Marky down on his knees and get it up high. And it worked,” Hoglander explained.

The play caught at least one of his teammates by surprise.

“He faked me out,” Pettersson said. “I thought he was going to shoot and then he did what he did.”

Andersson cut it to 2-1 with 1:29 left in the second.

In the third, Miller scored with 3:18 left and Lindholm made it 4-1 with an empty-netter with 1:10 to go. Hanley then beat DeSmith with 19 seconds remaining.

“These are games that you want to find a way to win,” Calgary coach Ryan Huska said. “We got a late goal in the second period and you want to build on some of that momentum and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”

UP NEXT

Flames: Host Buffalo on Sunday night.

Canucks: Host Los Angeles on Monday night.

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