OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Juuso Valimaki and the Calgary Flames have been talking a lot lately about the importance of quality starts.
The Finnish defenseman helped put his team’s plan into motion Saturday.
Valimaki scored four minutes into the game as a three-goal first period staked Calgary to a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
“It’s kind of stayed in the talk stage but we haven’t been able to really do it,” Valimaki said. “So to be able to do it, it’s probably going to give us confidence that we can do it, and that’s the way that we’ve got to play.
“We’ve got to carry it on to the next game again.”
Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm had the other early goals for the Flames, who ended Ottawa’s three-game win streak. Sean Monahan, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk also scored for Calgary.
Drake Batherson, Colin White and Brady Tkachuk replied for the last-place Senators.
The Flames opened the scoring four minutes into the game and didn’t look back.
The speedy Johnny Gaudreau zipped around a couple of Ottawa players before sending a backhand saucer pass to Valimaki for a one-timer past Matt Murray.
Calgary scored again 37 seconds later as Backlund flipped a rolling puck past a handcuffed Murray, who stopped 27 of 33 shots
Perhaps in an effort to spark his teammates, Austin Watson fought bruising Flames forward Milan Lucic, who had a 35-pound weight advantage, on the ensuing faceoff.
Calgary took advantage of some sloppy defensive play ahead of its third goal. Josh Norris turned over the puck deep in his zone and Lindholm snapped it in.
“We didn’t really answer in the first,” Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot said. “It was one of those (days) where it didn’t go our way.”
Batherson extended his goal-scoring streak to five games with a power-play effort at when he beat David Rittich with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle. But another Senators defensive lapse was costly early in the second period as Chris Tierney coughed up the puck down low. Gaudreau fed it to Monahan for a power-play goal.
A Calgary shorthanded goal followed when Mangiapane hit the post with a redirect attempt before tapping in the rebound.
White responded 40 seconds later by scooping a loose puck off the faceoff and snapping it past a screened Rittich, who made 31 saves.
The lone goal in the third period came from Brady Tkachuk on an Ottawa power play.
The Senators defeated the Flames 6-1 on Thursday night. The teams will face off again Monday in the finale of Ottawa’s five-game homestand.
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