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Flames score four in the first for New Year's Eve victory

CALGARY — Michael Frolik has finally found the back of the net.

The Calgary right-winger ended a 20-game goalless drought and also added an assist Saturday night as the Flames used a strong first period to beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-2.

Frolik opened the scoring at 6:08 when he whipped his seventh of the season past Louis Domingue on the power play. The Flames held a 4-0 lead by the first intermission.

“Sometimes it’s like that. I know the start for me was good and then I kind of couldn’t get it in,” said Frolik. “I’m happy that it went in today and hopefully it’s going to build the confidence a little bit back again.”

Frolik contributed early in the year while Flames stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were slumping. While his goal production has been down lately, that’s not the case for his line.

Centre Mikael Backlund, whose team-leading 11th goal made it 4-0 at 15:42, has six goals in a four-game goal streak while left-winger Matthew Tkachuk had an assist to extend his point-streak to six games (one goal, six assists).

“He (Frolik) gives us so much every night,” said Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan. “He’s a top-rate penalty killer, he’s a top-rate 5-on-5 player, he can play against the best players and play in all situations. I was really happy, actually, to see him get rewarded.”

Dennis Wideman and Lance Bouma also scored in the first for Calgary (20-17-2), which improved to 4-0 against the Coyotes this season.

Brendan Perlini and Martin Hanzal had goals for Arizona (11-21-5), which has lost seven straight.

“It’s just getting to the point where it’s embarrassing,” said Hanzal. “It’s on us. It’s on the players. We’ve got to stick together and start playing desperate, because it’s just not desperate enough.”

Flames goaltender Brian Elliott finished with 27 saves and has won his last four starts after going over seven weeks without a win. He improved to 7-9-1.

“I thought he was the difference. That and special teams,” said Gulutzan. “Not just the saves and the amount of saves early but again at the times that he made those saves, that was important.”

Elliott built off a strong first period and was even better in the second when Arizona outshot Calgary 16-6.

After Perlini scored at 15:40, the Coyotes had a chance to make it 4-2 when Micheal Ferland’s giveaway sprung Tobias Rieder on a breakaway, but Elliott stuck out his skate to deny him on a deke.

“It’s been said in this league, first one to three usually wins. It came true tonight as well,” said Elliott. “When you get spotted those goals and some run support, you can relax back there and just feel the puck a little bit.”

Domingue turned aside 20-of-24 shots for the Coyotes while falling to 4-10-1.

“The start was awful. It’s way below average,” said Domingue, starting for the first time in 13 games. “Obviously I was ready, but I didn’t bring it. It was just bad; a bad first period and you look at the whole game and it probably cost us the game.”

The penalty kill continues to trouble Arizona. They gave up two power-play goals on four attempts and have now surrendered 13 of 26 attempts during their losing streak.

The Flames power play was best in the NHL in December scoring 17 times on 49 chances.

Hanzal’s goal at 11:53 got Arizona within a pair but it was too little, too late.

Notes: Tkachuk’s scoring streak ties New York Rangers’ Brady Skjei for longest by a rookie this season… Tkachuk also had six penalty minutes, giving him 70 on the season. That’s second behind Dallas’s Antoine Roussel (87). Monahan and Gaudreau were reunited on the same line for the first time since early in the season.