CALGARY — The Calgary Flames downed the visiting Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Thursday in a battle of clubs trying to salvage positives from their seasons.
Neither team will make the North Division playoffs, yet have three games remaining against each other as they play out the string.
"We want to win the last three games, so that's how we approach it," Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson said.
Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk each had a goal and an assist for the Flames (24-26-3), who could still finish above .500 if they win out.
Andersson and Andrew Mangiapane also scored for Calgary. Johnny Gaudreau had two assists.
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 24 saves for the win.
"I think that's his 20th win so that's pretty good for a team that's not making the playoffs," Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said.
Matthew Highmore scored for Vancouver (21-28-3) with Thatcher Demko turning away 24 shots in the loss.
"Obviously don't like the result but we had a lot of chances tonight," Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers said.
"I thought we played a much better game than just one goal out there. Marky was really good, but I thought the guys played a pretty good game overall tonight.
"I love the way we're still battling even though we're out of it. We're still taking a lot of pride in these last few games."
The Flames were tied for fifth in the division with the Ottawa Senators, whose season is over. The Canucks were six points back in the division cellar.
Calgary and Vancouver meet three more times starting Sunday at the same time NHL playoff series get underway.
Calgary and Vancouver are making up games lost when COVID-19 swept through the Canucks and suspended their season for three weeks.
The Flames and Canucks cap their seasons Wednesday on the same day the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets open their first-round playoff series.
Sutter indicated there will be lineup changes over Calgary's final three games.
"I'm going to put some other guys in the line up and give them an opportunity and put them in back-to-back games and make sure they play the right way and go from there," Sutter said.
The Canucks also play in Edmonton on Saturday in the Oilers' regular-season finale. Calgary leads the season series against Vancouver 5-2.
Calgary scored once on four power-play chances Thursday, while Vancouver went 0 for 1.
Tkachuk was credited with a Canucks own-goal at 16:37 of the third period. J.T. Miller reached to redirect the puck and ended up chipping it over Demko's shoulder.
Vancouver's Jimmy Vesey took a double minor for unsportsmanlike conduct with four minutes remaining in the game.
Lindholm scored on a breakaway at 15:33. Defenceman Chris Tanev head-manned the puck to Tkachuk, who chipped it to a streaking Lindholm.
A diving Demko robbed defenceman Oliver Kylington with a glove save on a Flames odd-man rush in a scoreless second period.
Mangiapane tipped a Nikita Nesterov shot from the blue-line off the post and in at 5:17 of the first period for a 2-1 Flames lead.
From behind the goal-line, Gaudreau dished the puck out front for Andersson to roof at 3:36.
Highmore scored his first as a Canuck on Vancouver's first shot of the game 62 seconds after the opening faceoff.
The 25-year-old from Halifax tipped a Travis Hamonic shot by Markstrom.
Notes: Gaudreau has six goals and 11 assists in his last 13 games . . . Vancouver's Brock Boeser has four goals and six assists in his last 10 . . . Calgary was without top centre Sean Monahan, whose season was shut down this week because of a hip injury requiring surgery . . . Tanev was an assistant captain in Monahan's absence . . . Mangiapane, Flames teammate Dillon Dube and Canucks goaltender Mike DiPietro will play for Canada at the men's world hockey championship in Riga, Latvia starting May 21.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press