It was a rollercoaster night for the Calgary Flames.
They led. They blew a lead. They trailed, twice. They scored a tying goal, but had it disallowed. They couldn’t buy a power-play goal to save their lives. And then they scored late in the third to force extra time and then early in overtime to win it.
What could’ve been a 3-0 series lead for the Anaheim Ducks transformed into a narrower, slightly more tenuous 2-1 series lead by virtue of a 4-3 Flames overtime victory.
The Flames opened the scoring for the first time this series, with a nice energetic rush from the fourth line catching the Ducks flat-footed at their bench. Mason Raymond fed a nice pass to Brandon Bollig, who scored to give Calgary their first lead of the series. That lead lasted a scant 4:50, when Patrick Maroon was left all alone at the far post and a gorgeous Ryan Getzlaf pass found him for the academic one-timer and a 1-1 tie. The Ducks took the lead outright late in the first, with Getzlaf knocking T.J. Brodie onto his ass, stealing the puck and following a chaotic sequence of flailing bodies in the Flames zone, Corey Perry scored to make it 2-1. Shots were 8-5 for the Ducks in the first.
The Ducks got an early power-play in the second period. However, it led to Calgary’s second goal. Sami Vatanen blew a tire at the blueline, allowing Joe Colborne to race in on a breakaway and beat Frederik Andersen to tie the game. That tie didn’t last too long, though, as Matt Beleskey took advantage of a long, long sequence of failed Flames zone clears, and fired a shot past Karri Ramo through a bunch of bodies to give the Ducks a lead. The Flames pressed late, but the Ducks maintained their composure and led 3-2 after 40 minutes. Shots were 8-4 Anaheim in the second.
The Flames responded in the final period the way you’d hope a team facing a 2-0 series deficit – and being 20 minutes away from being down 3-0 – would. They out-shot the Ducks 11-3. They hit. Defenders pinched. They played one of their better periods of the playoffs. But they just couldn’t beat Andersen. They accomplished very little on two early power-plays. They had a seemingly sure-thing goal get disallowed because of camera angles. However, Matt Stajan drove the net and drew a penalty to make the game 4-on-4. Sami Vatanen non-chalantly chucked a punch over the glass to give Calgary a 5-on-4 power-play which transformed into a 5-on-3 with Karri Ramo on the bench. And Johnny Gaudreau finally declared the top line’s presence in the game after two and a half iffy periods, beating Andersen with 20 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
And four minutes into overtime, on the period’s third shot and with Ramo pulled on a delayed penalty, Mikael Backlund’s wrister from the high slot found its’ way through a handful of bodies and deflected past Andersen by way of Clayton Stoner’s thigh for the win.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames got better as the game wore on and saved their best hockey for the final 24 minutes of this game. They didn’t get rattled when they blew a lead. They didn’t get rattled when the Ducks re-took the lead in the second period, and they didn’t get rattled when their tying goal was disallowed by the Situation Room.
With their season more or less on the line, the Flames didn’t wilt under pressure.
Let’s go with T.J. Brodie. He may have biffed it hardcore on Perry’s goal in the first period, but he played nearly 28 minutes – leading the Flames in that category – and was all over the ice during the Flames’ late-game comeback.
SUM IT UP
The Calgary Flames won Game 3, and their series with the Anaheim Ducks now sits at 2-1 for the Ducks. Friday night brings another huge game: the Flames can tie the series at 2-2, or be pushed to the verge of elimination via the Ducks going up 3-1.
The teams have two days off to prepare for what could be the biggest game of both teams’ seasons.