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Backlund scores twice as the Flames beat the Canadiens 5-2

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Mikael Backlund had two goals and an assist, and the Calgary Flames beat Montreal 5-2 on Saturday night in the Canadiens' first game since coach Martin St. Louis took an indefinite leave because of family reasons.

Backlund became the second Swedish-born skater in franchise history to reach 200 career goals, joining Kent Nilsson (229). The Flames captain also became the 11th player in franchise history with 200 goals.

“I’ve put in a lot of work in my life to get to the NHL and to be able to score 200 goals, it’s very special,” Backlund said.

“I got close there in early January scoring 196 and 197 or something like that. It seemed to take forever to get to 200, so it feels really good to get it. Special to get all the goals here in Calgary, too. Some good company here in the organization’s history.”

Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist, helping Calgary (33-29-5) to its second straight victory. Martin Pospisil and Daniil Miromanov also scored.

The Flames remained in distant playoff contention with 15 games remaining in their regular season.

“Win our next game, and honestly, we’ve been that way all year long,” Flames coach Ryan Huska said. “If we can find a way to win our next game, then we stay relevant, I guess you can say.”

Dustin Wolf made 36 saves for his second straight win since Jacob Markstrom was sidelined by a lower-body injury. Markstrom is day to day.

Flames defenseman Mackenzie Weegar had three assists, and winger Jonathan Huberdeau finished with two.

Montreal announced before the game that St. Louis will be absent from the team indefinitely because of family reasons. Canadiens assistant Trevor Letowski is in charge while St. Louis is away.

“It’s an emotional time, there’s no question, but you just have to dig in and just grind it out,” Letowski said after his NHL head-coaching debut at the Saddledome. “We have a job to do to fill some big shoes with Marty’s absence and tried everything we could to do that I think.

“Being a former player in the league, I would say, you lean on that a bit because you can’t be around this league, whether you’re in coaching or if you’re a player without, usually, constant adversity and ups and downs. I thought we had handled it as well as we could.”

David Savard and Cole Caufield scored for Montreal (25-31-11). Cayden Primeau made 23 saves.

Calgary opened a 5-2 lead with two goals in the first 3:54 of the third period.

Kadri scored a power-play goal 61 seconds into the third while Juraj Slafkovsky served a goalie interference minor.

Miromanov collected his second in five games since he was acquired from Vegas in a trade. He knocked home a rebound.

Former Flames captain Lanny McDonald received a standing ovation when the Saddledome’s videoboard showed the Hockey Hall of Famer standing and waving in the crowd.

The 71-year-old McDonald spent time in hospital in February because of a cardiac event he suffered in Calgary’s airport while returning from the NHL All-Star Game in Toronto.

“Super excited to see him back in the building,” Backlund said. “I texted a little bit with him when he was sick and not doing well. Good to see him recovering and back being out and about.

“I know how much he means to this city and this organization.”

UP NEXT

Canadiens: At Edmonton on Tuesday night in the second of a five-game trip.

Flames: Host Washington on Monday night to finish a four-game homestand.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL