(Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA Today Sports)
On Friday night, the Calgary Flames hosted the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets and lost a tight one by a 2-1 score. They weren’t great at managing the puck and really wasted their puck possession edge. They headed to Vancouver tonight, with everyone hoping for a better effort (and maybe some points).
The Flames were engaged in every area of the ice, battled for three periods, and took advantage of some miscues by the Canucks en route to a 4-1 victory on the road.
The game was at a high pace in the first, going end to end and lasting nearly six minutes without a whistle. Neither team got any hugely good chances, but both teams were sharp and brought their legs. The Flames had an edge in shots (7-5) and attempts (15-13). In other news, Luca Sbisa fought Micheal Ferland.
The high pace continued in the second, but with the Flames falling off a bit and the Canucks beginning to take the game over. Despite the Canucks having an edge in zone time and puck possession, the Flames kept them to the outside and got better chances. On one such instance, the Flames opened the scoring on a really nice sequence where all five guys on the ice touched the puck. Mark Giordano won a boards battle and punted the puck around the boards to Sam Bennett, who chipped it over to Mikael Backlund. Backlund carried the puck in (with T.J. Brodie and Michael Frolik with him on the rush) and made a nice cross-ice pass to Brodie, who then put a gorgeous back-handed cross-ice pass back to Frolik at the side of the net for the chip-in goal. The Canucks buzzed around late but couldn’t respond. The home side had the edge in shots (18-9) and attempts (31-15).
The third was more of the same, but with the Canucks opening up a little bit and the Flames playing some counter-punch hockey. With about five minutes left in regulation, they broke through on one of their chances. Jiri Hudler battled in the corner for a loose puck, won the battle, and found Sean Monahan in the slot for a wrister to make it 2-0. The Canucks pressed and pulled Ryan Miller for the extra attacker, but that allowed Backlund to add an empty netter to ice it. (Emerson Etem scored late to ruin Jonas Hiller’s shutout attempt, but Bennett added another empty netter to put it way out of reach.) Shots were 14-12 Calgary, while attempts were 29-23 Vancouver.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames kept skating hard and pressing their chances all game long. They were managing the puck a lot better than they did against Columbus, and did a much better job at adjusting to their opposition on the fly and taking advantage of the chances the game provided them.
Oh, and Vancouver was TERRIFIED of Micheal Ferland and Bennett all night long.
How do you feel about the win tonight, Micheal? pic.twitter.com/tVp5uy4dhE
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) February 7, 2016
It was one of those games that makes you think, “Man, if Treliving could get two or three good youngsters onto this team, they could grow into something special…“
Y’know, there was a lot to like tonight, but I’m going to go with Sam Bennett. He was dangerous around the net, was throwing his body around, and he was on the ice for all four of Calgary’s goals.
And let’s tip our hats to Micheal Ferland, Jiri Hudler, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik and Jonas Hiller, who all enjoyed strong evenings in their own rights.
The Flames fly home tonight and enjoy a day off tomorrow (and presumably will watch the SuperBowl). They practice on Monday and then host the vaunted Tank Battle on Tuesday night against the terrible Toronto Maple Leafs.