By JAY COHEN
CHICAGO (AP) — Johnny Gaudreau keyed a fast start for Calgary, and Jacob Markstrom closed it out.
The Flames are building up some momentum ahead of the playoffs.
Gaudreau, Dillon Dube and Blake Coleman scored in the first period, and Calgary beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Monday night.
The Flames clinched a playoff spot on Saturday, and then celebrated with a 9-1 victory over Arizona. They traveled all day on Sunday, yet still had enough to hold off the struggling Blackhawks.
“It's a hard game to play,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “It's a game where the kids on the other side are going to come out and try and show their worth, and they did.”
Markstrom made 22 saves as Calgary (47-20-9) won for the seventh time in eight games. Gaudreau and Oliver Kylington tacked on long empty-netters for the Pacific Division leaders in the final 1:32.
“The guys battled to the end, the whole third period,” Markstrom said.
Chicago (25-40-11) lost for the 10th time in 11 games. Tyler Johnson and Alec Regula scored, and Kevin Lankinen made 30 stops.
“I didn’t mind our effort. It wasn’t a 5-2 game for us," interim Blackhawks coach Derek King said. "The first period we were sleepy, spotted them a couple of goals. After that we were all right.”
The Blackhawks played without Mackenzie Entwistle after the forward departed in the first period with a right shoulder injury. King said Entwistle will not travel with the team on its three-game road trip.
Chicago was down 3-1 when Regula's long shot from the top of the left circle appeared to go off Markstrom and into the net 12:54 into the second period. It was the first career point for the defenseman in his 13th NHL game.
But that was it for the Blackhawks against Markstrom and Co. Markstrom made a glove save on Reese Johnson with 4:09 left in the third, and the two empty-netters put it away for Calgary.
Markstrom “kept us in the game. Made some huge saves,” Gaudreau said, “like he's done all year.”
The Flames got off to a fast start behind Dube, who redirected Noah Hanifin's shot past Lankinen just 22 seconds in. It was Dube's fourth goal in his last three games and No. 14 on the season, extending his career high.
Gaudreau then made it 2-0 when he circled the offensive zone before finding a wide-open shot in the right circle, beating a screened Lankinen high on the goaltender's stick side at 6:23.
It was Gaudreau's career-best 37th goal and his 600th point. He had two goals and two assists during Saturday night's 9-1 victory against Arizona.
Gaudreau nearly picked up another point when he set up Calle Jarnkrok with about eight minutes left, but Lankinen made a great right pad stop.
Coleman's 16th goal on a well-placed tip at 14:41 lifted Calgary to a 3-1 lead after one. The Flames outshot Chicago 14-6 in the opening period.
“They’re a really good team," Regula said. “We had good moments, had bad moments.”
Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach missed his second straight game with a right shoulder sprain. King said Dach will not travel with the team for its road trip.
“It’s day by day,” King said. “Not sure where this is going, but hopefully he’s back soon so he can play some games for us.”
The return of Connor Murphy likely will be up to the defenseman, King said. Murphy hasn't played since March 12 because of the NHL's concussion protocol, and the seventh-place Blackhawks have six games left this season.
Flames: At Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
Blackhawks: At Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night.
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Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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