Tonight’s Game 4 between the Calgary Flames was supposed to be the ultimate challenge for the Flames: a home game against a desperate Vancouver Canucks team that really, really didn’t want to go down 3-1 in the series.
However, Vancouver was equal parts undisciplined and sloppy in their play early-on, Calgary got out to an early lead and held on for deal life to skate away with a 3-1 win and a 3-1 series lead on the Canucks.
The Flames can win a playoff round on Thursday. In a season where the hockey world expected them to be in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.
The game was dominated by special teams early. With Ronalds Kenins in the box for boarding Sam Bennett, Johnny Gaudreau converted on a gorgeous passing series from Dennis Wideman and Jiri Hudler to make it 1-0. However, that lead didn’t last long: with David Schlemko in the box, a Henrik Sedin shot careened past Jonas Hiller off the body of a sliding/blocking Kris Russell to tie it up. However, soon after, with Nick Bonino in the box, a Jiri Hudler tip of a Dennis Wideman shot gave Calgary the lead with a slapper from the point off a nice cycling play from Gaudreau and Russell to make it 2-1. And late in the period, a Joe Colborne rush led to a T.J. Brodie shot that was tipped in by Sam Bennett, who was tied up with a Canucks defender to make it 3-1. Shots were 11-7 Vancouver after 20 minutes, but they were down 3-1 and yanked Eddie Lack from the net.
Nobody scored in the second period, which Calgary succeeded in maing as low-event as humanly possible. Heck, there were nine shots in the entire frame. Calgary out-shot Vancouver 6-3, but good chances were fairly even – and fairly rare.
The Canucks came out like they were shot out of a cannon in the third. They were all over Calgary, but the Flames – and Jonas Hiller – remained calm. The Flames found their legs after a few minutes and the game became much like the second, with Calgary generating chances and executing well. Vancouver pulled Ryan Miller late for an extra attacker and had a few good chances, but they could not beat Jonas Hiller. The game ended the way the first period did – with a 3-1 Calgary lead. Shots were 15-9 for Vancouver in the third.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They were better than Vancouver, slightly, in the first. They were better than Vancouver by a fair margin in the second. And they were good enough to keep Vancouver at bay in the third. They probably played a more complete 60 minutes in Game 3, but the Flames played smart, played physical and didn’t give the Canucks too many free passes.
Let’s go with Dennis Wideman, who had two key assissts and was all over the ice.
And let’s give some stick-taps to the top line, who finally made their mark on this series after three games looking bewildered, confused, and a little sleepy. But they were quite good tonight.
THE GAME IN TWEETS
— Steve Macfarlane (@MacfarlaneHKY) April 22, 2015
Ferland causing mayhem, again. Almost scores, draw penalty. So, define: “Relevance.”
— George Johnson (@GeorgejohnsonCH) April 22, 2015
Update: The guy in the neon yellow shirt? He’s getting a jersey from Harvey! #CofRed
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 22, 2015
The largest 50-50 pot we’ve had at the Dome was at the World Juniors and it was $240,000 – we are over that! #FlamesFoundation
— Candice Goudie (@CandiceGoudie) April 22, 2015
Derek Dorsett is on the ice when the #Canucks need two goals in the last two minutes of the game. That is a bold move Cotton.
— Peter Klein (@primetimeklein) April 22, 2015
SUM IT UP
The Flames played a pretty strong game and now have a commanding 3-1 lead in this series. I expected it to be more of a trench war. I honestly expected some overtime games by now. But hey, the Flames are performing better than expected – as they basically have all year, it seems.
The Flames can finish the Canucks off on Thursday night in Vancouver.