CALGARY, Alberta — Sean Monahan seems to know exactly what to do when the game is on the line.
Monahan scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to lift the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night. It was the second-year star's eighth game-winning goal and gave the Flames two important points as they climbed within one win of clinching a playoff spot.
Getting the puck at his own blue line, Monahan carried it up the ice into the Coyotes' zone and, after stopping sharply in the slot, the 20-year-old sent a shot past Mike Smith for his 31st goal of the season.
"I got a chance to go there and Johnny (Gaudreau) drove the net hard to create room and I tried to do whatever I could to get a shot," Monahan said. "Fortunately enough, I put it in."
Monahan is tied for third in the NHL in game-winners this season, behind Alex Ovechkin (11) and Max Pacioretty (10).
"He has such a good feel for the game," Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. "Whether it's offensively or defensively, he's always on the job. He showed great patience. He let the D-man go down and walked right in."
The goal came less than 2 minutes after Arizona capitalized on a big mistake by Flames goalie Jonas Hiller to tie it. Out of his net to play the puck near the corner. Hiller lost the puck to Kyle Chipchura, who set up Craig Cunningham in front of an empty net.
"Those things happen but in the end, you stick together as a team," Hiller said. "There's always somebody on this team to find a way to bail the other guys out."
David Jones and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for the Flames, which swept the teams' five-game season series by a combined score of 20-8.
Calgary can clinch its first trip to the postseason in six years when it hosts Los Angeles on Thursday.
"We all know what's at stake," Hartley said. "There's a great team coming in, Stanley Cup champs in our building. ... We're going to go out there, we're going to play our own game and we're on a mission. We know what we need to do."
Thanks to the Kings' loss in Edmonton on Tuesday night, Calgary has two chances to get one win. The Flames finish the season in Winnipeg.
"Those are going to be two of the hardest points for us to get on the season and we know that," veteran Flames center Matt Stajan said. "We have to get ourselves ready. That's a Game 7 for us on Thursday and hopefully we can seal the deal here on home ice."
B.J. Crombeen had the other goal for the Coyotes.
The Kings, playing Tuesday night in Edmonton, opened the night tied in points with the Flames. Both teams have two games remaining but Calgary has the tiebreaker should they finish even in points.
Tied 1-1 after 40 minutes, the Flames regained the lead 1:13 into the third when Jones went hard to the net and hammered in a rebound of a shot by Michael Ferland.
Despite his one mistake, Hiller mixed in some clutch saves in the third including a big glove save off Cunningham.
Despite an 18-7 edge in shots in the first period, Calgary emerged with only a 1-0 lead. The Coyotes played a much better second period and tied the score with 2:51 left when Crombeen's shot deflected off Wideman jersey and fluttered past Hiller.
The weird goal was only Crombeen's third of the season in 56 games.
"To have a start like that, we put ourselves in a bad position," former Flames forward David Moss said. "We did some better things in the second and third but we gave them a couple too many chances."
Gaudreau opened the scoring when he was set up by Wideman and one-timed a shot inside the near post before Smith could slide across. Gaudreau's 62nd point moved him one point ahead of Nashville's Filip Forsberg for the NHL rookie scoring lead.
The Flames lost Lance Bouma (upper body) late in the second period after he appeared to get shaken up blocking a rising slap shot by Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Arizona captain Shane Doan (lower body) also did not play in the third period.
NOTES: With 23 goals, Gaudreau has the most goals by a Flames rookie since Paul Ranheim (26) and Sergei Makarov (24) in 1989-90. ... Flames improved to 21-6-1 against the Pacific Division. ... Sam Bennett was among the healthy scratches for the Flames. He has yet to make his NHL debut after joining Calgary last Saturday when his junior season ended in Kingston (OHL).
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