Johnny Gaudreau had a December to remember. And his January is off to a pretty nice start, too.
Recently named the NHL's second star of the month for December with 11 goals and 15 assists in 14 games, the Calgary Flames forward opened 2019 - and a four-game road trip - with a goal and three assists Wednesday in a 5-3 victory at Detroit, then followed that with a goal and an assist Thursday in a 6-4 loss at Boston.
Gaudreau will look to keep things going when the Flames travel to Philadelphia for a Saturday matinee.
The scoring outburst has Gaudreau in a tie with Edmonton's Connor McDavid for third in the NHL scoring race. Their 61 points entering Friday trail Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov (69) and Colorado's Mikko Rantanen (62).
"Points in today's game, compared to the '70s and '80s, is more impressive, to be honest with you," Flames coach Bill Peters recently told NHL.com. "Just scoring, obviously, is a little tougher here with the way the game is officiated and played and coached.
"It's an impressive number, it's a big number and it's well earned. It's a guy who's playing both ends of the rink and on both sides of the puck."
Not surprisingly, Gaudreau's linemates - Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm - also had the most productive month of their careers.
"Mony and Lindy have been playing really well - we've been getting some good chemistry together, so it's been a lot of fun playing with those guys," Gaudreau told the Calgary Sun. "And when I've been getting my chances, they've been going in. So that has been nice, too. ...
"We had a good month there. Obviously there are ups and downs throughout a season, but hopefully we can keep this thing going."
Despite Thursday's defeat, the Flames (25-13-4, 54 points) still lead the Western Conference and are second only to the Tampa Bay Lightning (66 points) in the league standings.
The Flyers, meanwhile, have lost five in a row and at 15-20-5 are tied with Ottawa and Los Angeles for the fewest points (35) in the league.
"It's like quicksand right now," Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds told Philly.com. "Trying to get out and it feels like it's getting deeper."
Firing general manager Ron Hextall and coach Dave Hakstol hasn't turned around the team's fortunes, despite the team going 3-1-1 in interim coach Scott Gordon's first five games.
The Flyers dropped a 5-3 decision at home to Carolina on Thursday, falling behind 3-0 and never recovering.
"We have to be consistent for 60 minutes, and we're not right now," forward Sean Couturier told Philly.com. "It's frustrating ... we have to work hard to get out of this hole."
One bright spot for the Flyers has been forward Claude Giroux, the team's lone All-Star Game representative. With two assists Thursday, Giroux has points in eight straight home games, dating to Nov. 17. He has 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) during the streak.
With goaltender Brian Elliott still more than a week away from returning from a lower-body injury, the Flyers claimed goalie Mike McKenna off waivers Friday from the Vancouver Canucks.
Updated January 4, 2019