Well, that sure was something, eh?
The Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins took to the ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome this evening and played a rollicking, entertaining, end-to-end 63 minutes of ice hockey. At the end, the Flames skated away with a 5-4 overtime win.
What did we learn tonight? Well, the Flames may be incapable of winning a game in regulation…and that Johnny Gaudreau is a pretty excellent hockey player.
The Flames got off to an uncharacteristically good start, scoring 33 seconds into the game. Basically, Zdeno Chara tried the patented “Todd Bertuzzi no-look pass at your own blueline,” giving David Jones the puck. Jones dished it to Johnny Gaudreau for a tap-in and a 1-0 lead. Shortly after an unsuccessful Flames power-play – is there another kind? – the Flames responded. After failing to gain the offensive zone up 5-on-4, Gaudreau calmly skated into the offensive end, passed it to T.J. Brodie, who passed it to Mark GIordano for a wrister past Jonas Gustavsson and a 2-0 lead. However, the Bruins responded before the period expired, with Matt Beleskey tipping in a Zdeno Chara point shot (with lots of traffic out front) to make it 2-1. Shots were 15-9 Boston and shot attempts were 21-16 Boston.
The middle frame was WILD. And by wild I mean there were three goals in 46 seconds.
- Brad Marchand scored off a nice feed from Brett Connolly, on a rush created when Joe Colborne over-skated the puck just inside the Bruins blueline to create an odd-man rush the other way.
- 20 seconds later, Johnny Gaudreau scored by calmly tucking the puck behind a sprawling Gustavsson. That chance was created when the Bruins went for the rim-around the end boards rather than chipping the puck out of their zone. The Flames kicked the puck around beneath the red line before Gaudreau got it out front. This was the last shot Gustavsson faced, as he was replaced by Tuukka Rask.
- 26 seconds after that goal, Zdeno Chara lasered a shot through a lot of traffic past Karri Ramo.
Beyond that, the period was very end-to-end, and was high on entertainment value. The Flames even survived a Bruins power-play. Shots were 12-7 Calgary, and they also held a slight 24-23 shot attempt edge.
The game remained end to end in the third, but there were fewer golden chances as both sides played like they realized they were tied after two – the Bruins, in particular, were good at keeping the Flames to the outside for the most part. The Flames were gifted a chance to win late as Zdeno Chara was sent to the box for delay of game (puck over glass), but the Bruins scored – because Calgary’s power-play is that bad – as Dougie Hamilton got blown past by Brad Marchand to generate a Bruins penalty shot. Marchand beat Ramo five-hole to ice the game. Well, actually he didn’t, because the Flames pulled Ramo and kept pressing, and Jiri Hudler scored with 1.2 seconds left on a wild goal-mouth scramble to make it 4-4 and send it to overtime. Shots were 13-11 Calgary, and shot attempts were 27-16 Calgary/
In overtime, it continued to go back and forth before Dougie Hamilton sprung Johnny Gaudreau with a great pass for the winger’s third goal of the game and the game-winner to ice it at 5-4. Shots in OT were 5-2 for Boston and attempts were 5-4 for Boston, but it was all for naught.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
Let’s be honest here: all the excuses were lined up for the Flames tonight. They were playing a good team, were without Kris Russell and lost David Jones early. But they didn’t really seem to deflate in this game the way we’ve seen them deflate in the past.
They were pretty good at even-strength, being narrowly out-shot 34-32 on the whole, and they didn’t let their special teams struggles derail them.
Oh, and Johnny Gaudreau was a huge catalyst for his team, even with Boston throwing their top defenders and shut-down line at him.
Johnny Gaudreau! Four-point night (including a hat trick), on the ice for all five of Calgary’s goals, and generally a huge difference-maker all night long.
Also good tonight: Markus Granlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano.
Dougie Hamilton? He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t awful either. He was fine, but I’m sure he’s very happy to have gotten this game over with.
The Flames (10-14-2) have a couple days to rest up before they’re back in action on Tuesday night with a chance for revenge against the San Jose Sharks.