(Sergei Belski – USA Today Sports)
On Sunday, the Calgary Flames lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago.
They weren’t very good that night. They got a goal and then faded, allowing the Blackhawks – who are pretty good – to take over the game. Tonight, the Flames hosted the Blackhawks. Many felt that the Flames were in line for a spanking. Instead, the local hockey club played easily their best game of the season. They were strong for three periods – even when they were out-shot in the second – and won a thriller in overtime for a 2-1 decision.
The Flames improve to 8-12-1 and are now 5-0 in three-on-three overtime. More importantly, they followed a pretty good game against New Jersey on Tuesday with a complete game against Chicago.
The Flames took it to a shaky Blackhawks team in the first period, out-shooting them 13-7 in the period. They didn’t get too many great scoring chances, but they finally broke through with a goal on Scott Darling mid-way through the period. Sean Monahan won a face-off, Johnny Gaudreau passed it to the point for Kris Russell. Russell shot it at Darling (with Mason Raymond screening). Darling made the initial save, but Monahan tucked the rebound past Darling to make it 1-0. That lead didn’t last long, though, as Artem Anisimov scored 13 seconds into a Blackhawks power-play – Dougie Hamilton was off for holding the stick – to tie it up.
Oh yeah, before Calgary scored, Karri Ramo made a save.
Holy Ramo! https://t.co/j3jMoKkkRS
— Jason Gold (@JayGold85) November 21, 2015
Neither team scored in the second or third periods. Shots were 8-4 for Chicago in the second (17-13 in terms of shot attempts), as both teams played tight defensive hockey. Chicago didn’t seem to engage very much, possibly because they felt it would leave them vulnerable to Calgary’s odd-man rushes. Either way, it was the sleepiest period of the game, but at least the Flames gave up zero goals.
The third period was awesome hockey. It was end-to-end, primarily with the Flames pushing towards Chicago’s end. Gaudreau had a ton of time in the offensive end but couldn’t bury anything. Calgary’s defenders really jumped into the rush – showing remarkable energy given that Kris Russell left after the first period. Chicago was very fortunate to be tied. Shots were 14-4 and shot attempts were 20-12, both in favour of Calgary. But since it was tied after regulation, we went to overtime.
And then Johnny Gaudreau was unleashed in overtime. After a few nice chances on prior overtime shifts for the Flames, this is what ended the game.
Gaudreau OT winner pic.twitter.com/lsqbThG1Kb
— Stephanie (@myregularface) November 21, 2015
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames won because they played their game the way they were supposed to be playing it all season. They threw hits on the forecheck to get the puck. They held onto the puck when they did grab it and made things happen. And even when they had some adversity – in the form of Kris Russell leaving via injury and the Chicago power-play goal that tied the game late in the first – they didn’t fall apart like they have in the past.
There was something to like about basically every Flames player tonight. That’s rarely been the case this season. They played a strong three(-plus) period effort tonight and made the Stanley Cup champions seem ordinary. Heck, even-strength shots were 37-14. That’s impressive against any team, let alone one that out-played the Flames so thoroughly on Sunday.
Johnny Gaudreau played 20:33, had 6 shots, had an assist on Calgary’s first goal and scored their second goal. He was +2 and was generally dangerous and poised whenever he had the puck – which was a lot.
Other players who were good: T.J. Brodie (played 31 minutes), Dougie Hamilton (+2 in 20+ minutes), Mark Giordano (25 minutes), Sean Monahan, Mason Raymond, Josh Jooris… Heck, most of the team was good tonight.
The Flames are off for a couple of days – make sure to head down to the Red Rally fan event at the ‘Dome tomorrow from 10-to-4 – and then it’s off to Anaheim for a game Tuesday at the Honda Center, where they haven’t won a game for a million kabillion years.