Flames' hot hand

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:41 PM ET

Two goals.

Including the game winner.

That's the kind of offensive production Calgary Flames fans will be thrilled to hear about from Mikael Backlund.

Even better is the fact the first-round draft choice wasn't exactly patting himself on the back for it.

More like he was chastising himself despite helping the Kelowna Rockets claim last night's 5-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen at the Dome.

"I was awful today," Backlund said of his performance. "It's not about the goals.

"Of course I like to score goals, but it's better to play good."

At this time of year, it's not always about how you do it. It's just that you do it.

The Rockets have a 2-0 lead on the Hitmen in the best-of-seven series for the WHL championship, and part of that edge came because of Backlund's two-goal outing last night.

Neither goal was a patented quick-release wrister. Nor was either a coast-to-coast, split-the-defence, highlight-reel tally.

Both were actually garbage goals.

Backlund's first, which held up as the winner, was a rebound offering after Evan Bloodoff raced around a Hitmen defenceman and drove to the net with the puck. Backlund was on the spot for the loose puck.

His second of the night -- and 11th of the playoffs -- came after Hitmen goalie Martin Jones couldn't contain a high shot by Lucas Bloodoff. Backlund picked it up in the slot and drove it home.

Now, the Rockets are in the driver's seat, heading home with a chance to sweep the series against a Hitmen team that won 12 straight to start the playoffs.

"I don't know if we're surprised," Backlund said. "We knew when we came here we were a real good team. We knew the Hitmen were pretty good, but we knew they're not unbeatable.

"We know they're going to come hard in the third game, and we have to have a lot of respect and not be looking too far forward."

Making last night's one-sided finish more impressive for Kelowna was how it happened without the Rockets leading playoff scorer.

For the second game in a row, Jamie Benn was run over by Calgary's Keith Seabrook. He finished Game 1, but a first-period hit last night spelled the end of his outing.

The Rockets are a very balanced team but could have been in major trouble without Benn's 13 goals and a franchise-record 31 points in the team's playoff run.

"It was his call," said Rockets head coach Ryan Huska. "Jamie wanted to play. He's going to be fine, and we're looking forward to having him back in our lineup in Kelowna."

Yeah, but for the time being, somebody had to provide the punch.

Enter Evan Bloodoff, former Hitmen forward Ian Duval and Backlund, the Flames' first-round pick from the 2007 draft.

"We felt bad for him and it's bad for the team because he's one of the best players, but Husk told us somebody has to step up," Backlund said.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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