February 15 2017 11:01PM
Monday night was a rough game for the Calgary Flames, as they didn't look very poised or composed and they dropped a 5-0 decision to the bottom-dwelling Arizona Coyotes. Tonight, the Flames had a chance to bounce back. They managed to grind out a 3-1 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers in a game where they spent the majority of their time defending.
After Monday's stinker, this was a game that the Flames had to win to keep pace. They managed to do so.
The Flames were noticeably sharper in the first than they had been to close out the Arizona game, but that's faint praise – it's like saying a steak knife is sharper than a butter knife, of course it is. However, the Flames were flat early on and it took them nearly a full five minutes to get (a) a controlled zone entry or (b) a shot on goal. Not surprisingly, they got scored on first. Some nifty stick-handling by Matt Read drew Brian Elliott way out of position, leaving Nick Cousins all alone for a pass and tap-in goal to make it 1-0.
But the Flames battled back, with the line you would expect to get a nice goal generating a nice goal. Matthew Tkachuk won an offensive zone face-off and went to the net. Mikael Backlund collected the puck and made a nice pass to Tkachuk for a tap-in and a 1-1 hockey game.
3M + Dougie/Giordano = Joy pic.twitter.com/ZvJpTkrwTf— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) February 16, 2017
The story of the first period was a spearing major that Alex Chiasson took on Cousins.
Chiasson spear on Nick Cousins. He's gone from the game now. pic.twitter.com/v4bxeLuAOR— AOL KEYWORD: Mike (@mikeFAIL) February 16, 2017
He got tossed from the game and the Flames had to kill off a five minute penalty – two minutes of which were a two-man advantage for the Flyers after Sean Monahan's chip out of the zone cleared the far glass. Shots were 15-8 for the Flyers in the first.
The middle frame was not a good period of hockey. The Flyers held the Flames in their zone with some nice neutral zone pressure, but didn't really generate a heck of a lot of offensive chances. The Flames struggled to get out of their end and to get much going in the offensive zone. However, they did manage to take the lead. Once again, an offensive zone face-off win and some cycling led to the Flyers scrambling. Finally, T.J. Brodie's wrister from the point eluded Michal Neuvirth (who was screened by Sam Bennett) to make it 2-1.
Shots were 10-5 Calgary in the second.
Calgary continued to defend throughout the third period, though the Flyers didn't generate nearly as many dangerous-looking chances. Mark Giordano added a late empty netter to make it 3-1. Shots were 9-9 in the third.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames won because they stayed calm, for the most part. A lot of teams would have wilted in the face of a five minute power play against a team as good as they are. The Flames stayed the course, kept their wits about 'em, and didn't really change much. They seemed content to play a low-scoring, grind-it-out game, and they took what the Flyers gave them.
THE TURNING POINT
The Flames managed to kill off a major penalty, including two minutes where they had a full five on three to kill. Oh, and two of their regular penalty killers were the guys in the penalty box. The held the Flyers to just six shot attempts over that five minute span (and only two shots that hit the net). It was a game-swinging kill.
Tkachuk was excellent tonight, with a pair of points and a bunch of really nice shifts. Only six Flames were particularly good tonight – along with Tkachuk, there was Backlund, Michael Frolik, Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano and Elliott. Elliott was the only other guy in Tkachuk's league tonight.
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Stats via Natural Stat Trick.)
THIS AND THAT
Cousins was all over the place in the first period. He scored the first goal. He got speared. He drew a roughing penalty. He served Philadelphia's too many men penalty. (He also served Michal Neuvirth's "playing the puck outside the trapezoid" penalty in the third.)
Two days after being bumped to the fourth line against Arizona, Gaudreau played on both the first and third lines against the Flyers due to Chiasson's ejection. He ended up playing 21:38, the second-most he's played this season behind a game against Tampa Bay in December where he saw 22:04.
"For me, we weren't very good as a group of our skaters. This is a game our goalie won us." - Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan assesses his team's performance.
"I thought he had a few good chances, he made some nice plays, but once again for me, you guys saw the shot block at the end off the face-off. He blocked a one-timer there when we lost. It's little things like that from all of our guys that's going to get us to where we need to go. I thought Johnny was effective, it was a really tough game to play in and he created in it, but he also did some real good things defensively." - Gulutzan on Gaudreau's performance.
"I think it was good. I think, if we got into some trouble, we didn't have a problem icing it. I think when you're afraid to ice it sometimes you get yourself in even more trouble. Off the glass and out sometimes is your best friend and we had a few of those tonight. You live to fight another day, sometimes." - Flames goaltender Brian Elliott on his team's composure in their own end tonight.
The Flames (29-26-3) are off tomorrow, though they have their annual charity poker tournament. They practice on Friday, then fly to Vancouver where they'll play the Canucks on Saturday night as part of Sportsnet's day-long Hockey Day In Canada festivities.