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Flames finally wake up to get back in playoff mix

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski scored three minutes apart in the first period and the Calgary Flames snapped a four-game skid with a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

Calgary improved to 1-3-1 in its last five games to gain ground in the tightly contested Western Conference playoff race. With 76 points, the Flames jumped into 10th place, a point ahead of idle St. Louis, and within one of Los Angeles and Colorado.

Mark Giordano also had a goal and assist, while Sean Monahan and Dougie Hamilton also scored.

The Flames won at Buffalo for just the second time in 14 trips (2-8-3 and a tie), and first time in regulation since a 3-1 win on March 15, 1996.

Rookie David Rittich stopped 25 shots before having his first career shutout bid spoiled when Casey Nelson scored with 18 seconds remaining.

The Sabres came out flat in a first period in which they were outshot 17-6 and outscored 2-0. The margin could have been even larger had goalie Chris Johnson not stopped Michael Ferland and Michael Frolik driving alone to the net on chances two minutes apart.

Johnson, who spent last season with the Flames, stopped 18 shots before being pulled after Monahan scored to put Calgary up 4-0 at the 6:01 mark of the second period. Robin Lehner allowed one goal on 19 shots (see full recap).

Stepan’s late goal helps Coyotes squeeze out win
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Derek Stepan scored with 58 seconds left in the third period, leading the Arizona Coyotes to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.

Clayton Keller assisted on the winning goal and also scored in the first period for the Coyotes, who are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.

Backup Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves in place of starter Antti Raanta, who missed the game due to injury.

Jussi Jokinen scored for the Canucks, who have lost four of their past five games and will likely be without star rookie Brock Boeser for the rest of the regular season after he injured his back against the New York Islanders on Monday night. Jacob Markstrom stopped 32 shots.

Tyler Motte, alone at the side of the net, missed a chance to put Vancouver ahead early in the third period as Nick Cousins deflected his shot to keep it 1-1. Motte got another chance from the slot, but Kuemper made the save.

The Coyotes dominated the shot clock and finally solved Markstrom with less than a minute to play. Keller found Stepan in the slot and he buried it past Markstrom to avoid overtime (see full recap).