The Calgary Flames trailed tonight after 20 minutes. They were utterly owned in the opening frame by the Detroit Red Wings’ power-play.
And then last year’s Calgary Flames showed up in the second period, and they took the game over. What 40 minutes of strong play resulted in was a game that was, at times, wildly exciting, culminating in a 3-2 overtime victory for the Flames, their second such win of the campaign.
The Flames doubled their win total on the year, but they also seemed to find their missing swagger.
The home side wasn’t amazing in the first period, nor were they awful. They were actually pretty decent at even-strength, but got stung (twice) by a lack of urgency on the penalty kill. With Deryk Engelland in the box for a holding call – generated because the Flames failed to clear their zone – Gustav Nyquist sniped one past Jonas Hiller on a dandy around-the-horn passing play. The Flames answered back, though, with Mark Giordano’s point shot with traffic out front beat Jimmy Howard to make it 1-1. However, Giordano almost immediately afterwards took a delay of game penalty, and the Red Wings again made the Flames pay, with Brendan Smith’s point shot (with traffic out front) beating Hiller to reinstate their one-goal lead at 2-1. The Red Wings were better in the first: 6-3 in chances, 13-8 in shots, 25-13 in shot attempts and 13-6 in face-off.
But hey, this also happened.
However, the Flames responded the way you’d hope they would: by playing better. Nobody scored in the second period, but it was easily the Flames’ best 20 minutes of hockey this season. The Flames skated. They hit, even after losing Michael Ferland early in the period. They were more effective at clearing their zone and gaining entry into the offensive zone. They drew multiple penalties. Scoring chances were even at 2-2, but the Flames led 16-4 in shots (12-2 at even-strength), 31-10 in shot attempts and were even (10-10) at the face-off dot.
The Flames kept pressing in the final frame of regulation. There was lot of push on both ends, and the Flames left themselves open to big chances the other way. Thankfully for them, Jonas Hiller was up to the task. He robbed Dylan Larkin on a 2-on-1 with a gorgeous arm save, and then he stopped another point-blank chance after a point-shot ricocheted off the end-boards and right to a Wings forward. The Flames pulled Hiller late for the extra attacker, and managed to beat Jimmy Howard as Mark Giordano’s initial point shot was tipped by Joe Colborne to send the game to overtime. The Flames led in chances (7-2), shots (13-9), attempts (21-19) and face-offs (12-9) in the third.
Overtime was also crazy, a nice back-and-forth affair with another gorgeous Jonas Hiller robbery on a Red Wings chance mid-way through the period. However, the trio of Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau played some give-and-go, and Howard was beaten by a nifty deke by Giordano, who beat him with a back-handed shot to win the game. The Flames narrowly out-chanced the Wings in OT by about a 4-2 margin, but otherwise shots (3-3) and attempts (4-4) were about even. The Flames won both face-offs in overtime.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Well, they won because they were better than the Detroit Red Wings. Granted, the Red Wings were about as good in the first period as the Flames were – and their power-play prowess was the difference in that frame – but the Flames finally kicked it into another gear in the second period and basically kept the the pedal down until the very end of the game.
Were there some hiccups? Oh sure. They still have some issues managing the puck, but their skating, tenacity and fore-checking more than made up for that tonight.
Jonas Hiller was the best Calgary Flame tonight, by far. He made 27 saves, including three absolutely game-saving stops – two in the third period with the Flames trailing by a goal and one in overtime to keep the game dead-locked.
Honourable mentions? There are many of them. Mark Giordano was good. Johnny Gaudreau was good. Josh Jooris was good. Jiri Hudler was good. Joe Colborne was good. Dougie Hamilton was better than he’s ever been wearing a red sweater.
Lots to like tonight. Let’s hope they can build on it.
“I think everybody was on their toes there, everybody wanted the puck to make plays, before our problem has been in second period we’ve been sitting back, being passive maybe, shying from making plays, and I thought it was totally opposite this second period and that turned the game around, we got the momentum and kept going in the third.” – Mikael Backlund, on the Flames’ big second period
“The second and third period, that was probably the best periods this season, with not giving up a whole lot in our end. That’s what our game’s based on, and that gave us confidence to be able to play in their zone. I thought we had plenty of chances to score the tying goal, the winning goal earlier, but in the end you take the two points and that’s something we can build on.” – Jonas Hiller
“Everyone stepped up. We have some really gutsy efforts out there, and it was great to see.” – Bob Hartley
PC’s Mark Jankowski has an upper-body injury, per Nate Leaman. Blocked two shots in the second period. Didn’t play in the third.
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) October 24, 2015
The Calgary Flames hit the road after tonight. They hit the Big Apple for a game against the New York Rangers on Sunday, then visit Brooklyn on Monday for a tilt with the New York Islanders, and then head to Ottawa to play the Senators on Wednesday night.