Milan Lucic finally gets on the board with Flames to help overcome Sabres


Milan Lucic scored his first goal with Calgary, and it turned into the winner as the Flames held on to beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Thursday.

The Saddledome erupted at 3:58 of the third when Lucic finished off a passing sequence with Derek Ryan and Dillon Dube for his first goal in 29 games, dating back to last season when he was a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Chants of “Looo” rained down from the crowd as Lucic hugged his linemates in the corner after putting Calgary ahead 4-1.

Tobias Rieder, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan also scored for Calgary (14-12-4). Monahan also had an assist for his first multi-point game since Nov. 7. The Flames have points in five straight games (4-0-1).

Interim head coach Geoff Ward improved to a perfect 3-0-0.

WATCH | Lucic picks up 1st Flames goal in win over Sabres:

Milan Lucic scored his 1st goal with Calgary in the Flames 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres 0:30

Sam Reinhart, Jake McCabe and Jack Eichel scored for Buffalo (13-11-5), which entered the night with points in its previous four games. Eichel extended his point streak to 11 games (10-10-20).

The goals by McCabe and Eichel came in the last three minutes — Eichel’s coming with the goaltender pulled — to set up a furious finish.

David Rittich made 26 saves to improve to 13-7-4. Linus Ullmark, who had 25 stops, saw his record fall to 7-6-2.

After successfully killing off three straight first-period Sabres power plays, the Flames tied it 1-1 at 16:42, converting their first man-advantage.

Set up by Monahan, Gaudreau strode to the face-off dot and ripped a shot into the top corner for his sixth goal of the season.

Calgary’s Sean Monahan checks Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen into the boards during the first period. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press)

Gaudreau, who scored 36 times last season, entered the night without a goal in his last 10 games and with just two in his last 24 games.

Rieder’s short-handed goal at 11:18 of the second broke a 1-1 tie. Sprung on a breakaway by Ryan, Rieder sped in on Ullmark and on a deke, neatly slid the puck through the pads of the Sabres goaltender.

At 15:02, Calgary surged in front 3-1 when Mikael Backlund set up Monahan for a one-timer from a sharp angle. It was the seventh goal of the season for Monahan, who is coming off back-to-back 30-goal seasons.

Gaudreau and Monahan snapped their slumps on a night in which Ward reconfigured his top two lines. Separated to start the game, Ward did reunite the duo, but with a new-look winger in Backlund.

Meanwhile, Elias Lindholm, the other longtime member of Calgary’s top line, shifted to centre and skated between Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane.

Buffalo opened the scoring 3:29 into the first period when Reinhart redirected Rasmus Ristolainen’s point shot past Rittich.

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