Smith has 31 saves, Lindholm scores 2 as Flames top Wild 2-0

The Associated Press

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- Mike Smith pumped his fist at the final buzzer, letting himself enjoy another shutout.

''That's the only time of the game I can celebrate, is when we win the game,'' Smith said.

Smith made 31 saves, Elias Lindholm scored twice and the Calgary Flames beat the Minnesota Wild 2-0 on Thursday night.

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Smith got his second shutout of the season and 38th of his career. He has won his past five games, including a victory in relief of David Rittich on Tuesday when Calgary rallied from 4-1 down to beat Columbus 9-6.

''It's always nice, especially in a close game to hear the horn go off at the end and get the two points,'' he said.

Lindholm got his 14th and 15th goals of the season and has 32 points in 29 games. His career high is 17 goals, reached with Carolina in 2014-15.

Johnny Gaudreau and captain Mark Giordano assisted on both goals.

''We find ways to score. It's good for us and good for the team,'' Lindholm said. ''Smitty made some huge saves for us at key moments so I have to thank him for this one.''

Smith didn't just make an impact in net. He checked Wild leading goal scorer Zach Parise in the second period when the goalie came out of his crease to play the puck.

''I wasn't trying to hit him, I was just trying to protect the puck,'' Smith said. ''They teach you that in minor hockey, to turn your back and get your big butt out.''

Calgary leads the Pacific Division at 18-9-2 and improved to 13-2 this season when scoring the first goal of the game.

Alex Stalock stopped 18 shots for the Wild.

''I always think for the most part the effort was there, but a lot of our guys weren't handling the puck well,'' Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''Alex played a really good game and kept us in there, especially at the beginning.''

Minnesota dropped to 1-2 on its trip to five Canadian cities, a first for the franchise.

Smith held off Minnesota on a pair of power-play chances in the second period and another to end the game after the Wild pulled Stalock for an extra attacker.

''He was good tonight,'' Boudreau said. ''When he's on, he's really on. Everybody knows that. When he's off, he's really off.''

Lindholm made it 2-0 at 1:13 of the third period when Gaudreau took a stretch pass from Giordano and dished the puck to him alone at the faceoff circle.

Minnesota won a first-period challenge of Lindholm's goal that was ruled offside, but Lindholm scored 50 seconds into the second frame on a 2-on-1 with Gaudreau.

Matt Dumba steamrolled Calgary center Mikael Backlund in the final minute of the game. Flames forward Ryan Lomberg went after Dumba, which resulted in a Calgary penalty.

''I think it's showing no respect for the player and for the game,'' Lindholm said of Dumba's check. ''They're down 2-0 and there's 40 seconds left and I thought he left his feet a little.''

NOTES: With two assists, Giordano reached 407 career points and moved past Lanny McDonald into 11th on Calgary's career list. ... Flames forward Michael Frolik (lower body) and defenseman Michael Stone (blood clot) and Juusu Valimaki (lower body) were scratched from the Flames lineup.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: At Edmonton on Friday.

Calgary: Hosts Nashville on Saturday.

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