Bennett gets 1st NHL goal as Flames defeat Canucks 4-2, take 2-1 lead in playoff series



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CALGARY, Alberta — Sam Bennett gave the Calgary Flames some breathing room with a goal he'll never forget.

It was his first in the NHL. And, it came in the playoffs.

The 18-year-old Bennett gave the Flames a two-goal lead early in the third period of a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

"It's a moment I've thought about for a very long time," Bennett said.

TJ Brodie had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Bollig and Sean Monahan also had goals for the Flames, who took a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series. It was the first time the Flames hosted a postseason game since April 2009. Game 4 is also at Calgary on Tuesday night.

Shawn Matthias and Jannik Hansen had goals for the Canucks.

Calgary's Jonas Hiller stopped 23 shots, while Vancouver's Eddie Lack made 24 saves.

Bennett gave the Flames a 3-1 lead at 2:14 of the third period. The fourth overall pick in the last year's NHL draft scrambled to the net on Joe Colborne's sharp-angled shot and slipped the rebound by Lack.

"Sammy, you should have seen the smile on this kid's face on the bench after his first goal," Flames coach Bob Hartley said.

It was Bennett's first game in Calgary since he saw action in a preseason game Oct. 2. He underwent shoulder surgery later that month. He rejoined the Flames in time to make his NHL debut and record an assist in Calgary's regular-season finale. Bennett played in both playoff games in Vancouver.

"He makes things happen out there," Hartley said. "His speed, his determination, he's a special young man. He's just learning how to play in our system, so I'm very impressed with Sammy."

With Canucks defenseman Yannick Weber serving a goaltender interference penalty and teammate Dan Hamhuis joining him in the box for an illegal check to Bennett's head, Monahan scored his first NHL playoff goal on Calgary's two-man advantage at 14:36.

Hansen pulled the Canucks within two goals with a snap shot that beat Hiller with 2:19 remaining.

"It was a pretty tight game. We were outshooting them going into the third," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "We just took ourselves out with penalties in the third."

After Game 2 ended with a brawl and 132 minutes in penalties assessed, the animosity resurfaced in a scoreless second period Sunday with jawing and shoving after whistles.

Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau skated to the bench in pain after he was chopped across the arms by Hamhuis, but continued to play and assisted on Monahan's goal.

Flames defenseman Kris Russell and Canucks forward Alex Burrows fought with 1:25 remaining, followed shortly after by a scrap between Calgary's Michael Ferland and Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa.

The Flames led 2-1 after the opening period on Brodie's goal at 15:02. A forecheck and screens courtesy of the line of Bennett, Colborne and Mikael Backlund gave Brodie the time and space to tee up a slap shot from just inside the blue line and beat Lack high stick side.

Matthias pulled Vancouver even at 9:09. With Hiller spinning onto his back to make the initial save during a goal-mouth scramble, Matthias batted the puck into the open net.

Bollig scored the first goal of the game at 6:35 — his first since Feb. 2. Left unchecked in the high slot, he beat Lack with a high wrister to the stick side.

"We had some great zone time," Hartley said. "We had some great pressure on their defensemen. We got lots of traffic on Lack, (who) seemed to have a hard time tracking the puck under traffic."

NOTES: Mason Raymond, who was a healthy scratch the first two games of the series in Vancouver, assisted on Bollig's goal. Raymond is one of just five Flames with more than 20 games of playoff experience.

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