The Calgary Flames came into Columbus, Ohio tonight with a simple objective: win. Facing off against the National Hockey League’s worst club, the Flames had to grab two points to have a shot at getting back into the pack in the Western Conference playoff race.
And due to some performances by 19-Year-old Sam Bennett and Johnny (Hockey) Gaudreau, the Flames skated away with a 4-2 victory. It was a game that was up for grab after 40 minutes; the Flames took it.
The opening frame was tight, albeit sloppy, hockey. Both teams looked like they felt they couldn’t afford to lose this one, and so sticks were held tight and pucks went around oddly. But it was a pretty even period overall. Just when you thought they’d go to the intermission scoreless, Dougie Hamilton’s point shot rebounded to Michael Frolik, who beat Sergei Bobrovsky to make it 1-0 with 8 seconds left in the period. Shots were 7-7, attempts were 21-20 for Calgary. Twas very even.
The second followed suit, and it was a combination of back-and-forth and a bit more sloppy. An initial Jackets point shot went wide of the net, but careened off the back-boards right to Scott Hartnell, returning to the Columbus line-up, and he tapped it in at the side of the net to tie it up at 1-1. The tie lasted for 38 seconds, as the Flames stole the puck from Columbus and Sam Bennett sniped one to make it 2-1. That lead wouldn’t last, though, as the Flames lost a defensive zone face-off, allowed a point shot, and then allowed Brandon Dubinsky to knock in the rebound past Karri Ramo to tie the game at 2-2. Shots were 15-12 for the Blue Jackets, and they also held a decent attempts edge of 24-18.
The Flames were pretty good early in the third. Johnny Gaudreau scored a weird one 88 seconds into the period, as his wide-angle shot blooped over the shoulder of Joonas Korpisalo – who took over mid-game for an injured Bobrovsky – to give the Flames a lead (and Gaudreau his 20th goal of the season). It was a great shot and Korpisalo played it well, it just found some space and got past him. The Jackets pressed and pressed after going down one, but some sloppy defensive play at the end of a sequence where the Flames hemmed them in for awhile led to a Mikael Backlund takeaway and after a few chances, a Sam Bennett wraparound goal for the 4-2 back-breaker. The Jackets pulled their goalie with three minutes left but failed to generate a heck of a lot. Shots were 8-7 Calgary, and attempts were 18-6 for Columbus.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They were a better team in the early part of the third when the game was in question, and they got more consistent goaltending all game. Ramo was sharp, they didn’t give the Jackets a lot of free opportunities, and they took advantage of the chances they were given.
They played like they felt they had to win, and so they did.
The whole second line was good, but 19-Year-Old Sam Bennett was the best of them, with a pair of goals and a ton of dangerous chances. Linemates Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik were also damn good all night.
The Flames hop on a plane to stay ahead of the weather and jet their way to Raleigh, North Carolina, where they have a date on Sunday evening with the Carolina Hurricanes.