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Sam Bennett's two-point performance leads Flames past Jets 6-3


CALGARY — Sam Bennett continues to make the most of increased playing time.

Bennett scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist as the Calgary Flames erupted for five first-period goals, then hung on for a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night.

Tied 1-1, the Flames took the lead for good at 8:20 of the first when Bennett ripped a 25-foot wristshot into the top corner for his second goal in as many games.

Next shift out, Bennett combined with TJ Brodie to set up Tkachuk, whose shot leaked through Connor Hellebuyck's glove, making it 3-1 and ending the evening for the Jets goaltender, who exited after giving up three goals on nine shots.

"I've wanted this opportunity for a while and I said I'd make the most of it. I'm not going to let my foot off the pedal now," said Bennett. "The confidence is definitely pretty good right now. I feel confident in my plays and I'm able to make plays and not be scared to make mistakes. It's a great feeling."

Elevated to the second line alongside Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund to start the homestand, the 2014 fourth overall pick remains in that spot, while earning accolades from his coach and teammates as the Flames have won three of their past four games.

"He's playing awesome right now," said Tkachuk. "I love how heavy and physical he's been. He's creating more space for myself and (Backlund), but he's creating more space for himself as well. You saw his speed on that breakaway in the third."

It was the first multi-point game of the season for Bennett. Half of his eight points on the season have come in the past four games.

"Benny is one of those guys, he's a young guy still, he's getting comfortable with what he brings to the table," said coach Bill Peters. "He's got a real bright future. We've said all along, we've liked him, we've liked him a lot. His competitiveness has led to the opportunity of playing more and he's capitalized on that."

Dillon Dube, with his first NHL goal, Mark Jankowski, Johnny Gaudreau and Derek Ryan, with an empty netter, also scored for Calgary (13-8-1), which moved back into first place in the Pacific Division.

Patrik Laine with two goals and Brandon Tanev scored for Winnipeg (12-6-2). The Jets have split the first two games of a four-game trip that continues Friday in Minnesota.

"There was quite a bit that didn't go our way tonight," said Jets captain Blake Wheeler. "Some of that was self-inflicted and some of it, the puck just wasn't bouncing our way."

The Flames are the fourth team in NHL history and first in nearly 30 years to score five or more goals in consecutive first periods. Calgary also scored five times against Vegas on Monday in a 7-2 win.

"It was just embarrassing," said Laine about the opening 20 minutes. "That's not the Winnipeg Jets. That's not the way we want to play this game. It was bad. It was real bad."

The St. Louis Blues were the last team to accomplish the feat back in November 1989.

"We've got three (wins) in a row right now and I think everyone in our locker room feels great," said Flames goaltender David Rittich, who has won five straight.

Down 5-1, Winnipeg started to chip away at the lead, beginning with Laine's one-timer with 14 seconds remaining in the second period.

On a nearly identical-looking goal, only this time on the power play and off a set up by Dustin Byfuglien, Laine's 13th of the season 6:17 into the third period drew the Jets to within two.

Making his third straight start with struggling Mike Smith on the bench, Rittich finished with 37 saves to improve to 8-1-0.

Laurent Brossoit had 14 stops in relief of Hellebuyck. He took the loss to fall to 3-1-1.

Notes: Flames forward Michael Frolik (lower body) was a scratch. He was replaced by Austin Czarnik... Calgary entered the night as the only NHL team with five players with 20+ points... For the Jets, it was just the second loss in their last 20 games against a Pacific Division opponent (15-2-3).

Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press

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