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Tkachuk scores 40th goal as the Calgary Flames top the Dallas Stars 4-2

CALGARY — Matthew Tkachuk's milestone night on Thursday came in a division-clinching win.
Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) celebrates his 40th goal and his 100th point of the season with teammate left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88) during second period NHL hockey action against the Dallas Stars in Calgary on Thursday April 21, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

CALGARY — Matthew Tkachuk's milestone night on Thursday came in a division-clinching win.

He scored his 40th goal and recorded his 100th point and Chris Tanev notched the game-winner as the Calgary Flames locked up first place in the Pacific Division with a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.

Calgary scored first for the NHL-leading 50th time, breaking a scoreless tie midway through the second period. With the Flames on the power play, Tkachuk took a pass from Johnny Gaudreau and stuffed the puck past Jake Oettinger before thrusting his arms in the air in celebration as his linemates mobbed him.

“I was probably more excited about the 40 to be completely honest,” Tkachuk said. “Coolest part for me was the guys coming in, they were way more excited than I was and I didn't think that could be possible.”

The 24-year-old winger's previous career high was 34 goals and 77 points in 2018-19.

“You can tell right away when he entered the league, he was a special player,” said Flames centre Mikael Backlund. “Special, character on the ice, loves scoring goals and a big-time player. 

"He's just been getting better and better every year and this year he's taken it to another level.”

With Gaudreau reaching the same century mark milestone last week, Calgary has two 100-point scorers for the fourth time in franchise history and first time since 1990-91 when Theo Fleury (51-53-104) and Al MacInnis (28-75-103) did it.

It's the Flames' eighth division title in franchise history, but just the third in the last 27 years.

“The team deserves it,” said Flames coach Darryl Sutter. “They've been the most consistent team in the division. They deserve to win the division.”

The Flames now wait to see who takes the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference as that will be their first-round opponent when the playoffs begin in less than two weeks.

“It's an accomplishment to win the division," said Backlund. "It's a long season. So the guys have done a great job and I'm really proud of our team.

“We're not satisfied. We want to do something really big here. We know we can do it.” 

Noah Hanifin and Andrew Mangiapane, into an empty net, also scored for Calgary (48-20-10), which is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games.

Jason Robertson and Luke Glendening scored for Dallas (43-30-5). The Stars lost all three games on their tour through Western Canada.

"We would like to have locked up our spot already. This road trip, we kind of gave some other teams some life,” said Oettinger, who had 33 saves in falling to 27-15-1. 

Dallas is precariously perched in the second wild-card spot, two points behind Nashville and two points up on Vegas. The Predators have a game in hand on the Stars.

“Last season we were in the same position but we were sitting around on our phones watching other teams and hoping they would win for us. Now we don't have to do that. There's no one else to blame. It's in our hands," Oettinger said.

The Stars play their final four games at the American Airlines Center, beginning on Saturday when they entertain the Seattle Kraken.

"We've got to win probably four in a row here," said veteran Dallas forward Jamie Benn, who was a minus-three. 

The Stars will also play Vegas in a huge game next Tuesday. Games against Arizona and Anaheim round out the schedule.

"If we've got to do it the hard way, well, we're going to do it the hard way,” said Stars coach Rick Bowness. “We get back to a great atmosphere in our rink, and we've got four home games. 

"We still control our own destiny. We just have to take full advantage of it - and we're going to."

Jacob Markstrom made 21 saves to improve to 37-15-8.

Tied 1-1 headed to the third period, Calgary needed only 20 seconds to take its second lead of the night with Hanifin's point shot eluding Oettinger, who was screened by Backlund.

But the Stars answered five minutes later. Fredrik Karlstrom was stopped on a partial breakaway, but Glendening scored on the rebound. Karlstrom's first NHL point came in his first career game.

Tanev's go-ahead goal came at 13:05 on a point shot that deflected in off the leg of Glendening, who was battling with Backlund in front.

Notes: Tkachuk is Calgary's first 40-goal scorer since Jarome Iginla scored 43 in 2010-11. ... The Stars' five-game winning streak against the Flames is snapped. Dallas had been 9-1-1 in their previous 11 games at the Saddledome. ... Tyler Toffoli recorded his 200th career assist... Bowness reunited Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn on a line with Michael Raffl.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 21, 2022. 

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press

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