The Flames are entering the stretch run before April’s opening of this year’s playoff series. Calgary will be there, but in what place remains to be seen. Since the All-Star break the team has struggled to find a rhythm of consistency. Particularly concerning was the drop-off in production from the top-line. Up until last night, the top line of Lindholm-Monahan-Gaudreau were struggling to control games like they had earlier in the season. It raised questions whether they could produce in playoff style hockey.

Although those questions are still unanswered, the line, along with the team, made a statement in the third period (what else is new?) against the Devils.

Leading the way? Johnny Gaudreau with a SIX point night include 3 goals. He put up the single best performance by any player this season. Gaudreau could’ve scored 4 or 5, but settled for three in grand fashion including the go ahead goal scored on a penalty shot.

Gaudreau’s fifth hat-trick came on the heels of Matthew Tkachuk’s hat-trick last game versus the Golden Knights (his first).

Now the Flames sit one point behind the surging SJ Sharks who upgraded at the trade deadline and look deadly. The difference between 1st in the Conference and 2nd in the Pacific will be a first round playoff date versus the likes of Minnesota, or Vegas. You don’t want Vegas.

Calgary needs to continue building, ramping up to the beginning of April. They’ll need everyone to step up and contribute. No more soft games and mistakes from TJ Brodie. No more inconsistent goaltending. If the Flames can find their groove, they’ll be a force come playoff time.