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Lindholm shines for Flames with a pair of goals in 7-4 win over Canucks

CALGARY — On a night when young Swedes were standouts, Elias Lindholm scored twice and had an assist for the Calgary Flames in a 7-4 win Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks.

CALGARY — On a night when young Swedes were standouts, Elias Lindholm scored twice and had an assist for the Calgary Flames in a 7-4 win Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks.

Lindholm scored the game-winner at 14:28 of the third period for the Flames (1-1-0), who lost to the Canucks 5-2 in Wednesday's season-opener in Vancouver.

Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson's two goals and an assist Saturday gave the 19-year-old five points in the first two NHL games of his career.

Lindholm's prowess in the face-off circle — he won 86 per cent of his draws Saturday — has compelled Flames head coach Bill Peters to start the 23-year-old on Calgary's top line on the right of centre Sean Monahan and left-winger Johnny Gaudreau.

Calgary acquired Lindholm in a blockbuster trade with the Carolina Hurricanes at the June draft. 

Peters was familiar with Lindholm's skills having coached him the last four seasons in Carolina before becoming Calgary's coach.

"Most guys take some time to fit into new systems but he was able to slot in right away," Peters said. "The line with him, Monahan and Gaudreau has a lot of potential heading into this season."

Lindholm joined Gaudreau and defenceman Mark Giordano in posting three-point nights Saturday. Gaudreau and the Flames captain each had a goal and two assists.

Monahan scored the tying goal in the third period on an assist from Gaudreau.

"Monny's a goal-scoring centre and Johnny's a play-making winger," Peters said. "It used to be your centre made plays and your winger scored goals, so they've got that a little bit flip-flopped. That's fine.

"Lindy is a centre by trade that can play the wing. It makes sense to me they can be a successful line. Each guy brings something slightly different and complement each other."

Austin Czarnik and Michael Frolik both added empty-net goals and Matthew Tkachuk had four assists for Calgary.

Flames starter Mike Smith wasn't particularly busy requiring 16 saves for the win, but he robbed Vancouver's Nikolay Goldobin with a point-blank glove save shortly after Monahan's equalizer in the third.

Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom had 30 saves in the loss. Brandon Sutter scored shorthanded and Bo Horvat also had a goal for Vancouver, which led 4-3 heading into the third period.

Pettersson was again a handful for the Flames scoring Vancouver's first and third goal and setting up the fourth.

"Dynamite," Canucks head coach Travis Green said. "He was our best player tonight. He was one of the bright spots in the game. A few guys played OK. We had some guys that needed to play better."

Calgary's first two goals of the night started with Lindholm winning offensive zone draws. He scored the winner on a cross-ice feed from Gaudreau.

"The way we played the last game, we don't want to play like that," Lindholm said. "We have a group in here that expects from ourselves to play better.

"We had some more poise out there and made some better plays."

Held scoreless on seven power-play chances in Vancouver, the Flames scored three with a man advantage Saturday including Monahan's tying goal and Lindholm's winner.

"Our power play wasn't great in Vancouver," Gaudreau said. "We were moving the puck around pretty well tonight.

"A lot of practise the past two days, a lot of video on the power play. We definitely got a little bit better there."

Calgary was minus defenceman Travis Hamonic on Saturday because of a facial fracture he sustained in a fight Wednesday with Canucks defenceman Erik Gudbrandson.

Noah Hanifin moved up to partner Stone on Calgary's No. 2 defensive pairing. Dalton Prout drew into the lineup alongside rookie Juusu Valimaki, who turned 20 on Saturday.

The Flames embark on a three-game road trip starting Tuesday in Nashville. The Canucks have another five games remaining on a six-game swing away from Rogers Arena.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press