Tonight, the Calgary Flames had a chance to get to the .500 mark for the first time this season. They played an Ottawa Senators club that was missing their starting goaltender. In a game where they were out-shot and out-played, and exhibited a lot of the same bad habits that resulted in several early losses, the Flames managed to grind it out and steal a couple points.
The Flames beat Ottawa 5-2. It helps that the Senators were using an American Hockey League goaltender for the final two periods. They weren’t great, but their performance was good enough tonight.
The recipe was familiar for the Flames in the first. Unfortunately, it was a repeat of several of their home games so far this season: they got out to a good start and opened the scoring off a nice retrieval of a dump-in. They collected the puck and Dougie Hamilton scored from the point through traffic to make it 1-0. Matthew Tkachuk nearly had a breakaway a few minutes later, but just couldn’t get up to speed. After that point, it was basically all Ottawa.
The Flames took two offensive zone penalties that resulted in power play goals. Tkachuk got nabbed for holding the stick trying to get around Erik Karlsson for a loose puck (it would’ve been a breakaway had he gotten past him), and Karlsson scored four seconds into the resultant power play with a point shot. (In Brian Elliott’s defense, Deryk Engelland and Mark Stone were obscuring his view of the puck.) Sam Bennett took a minor for tripping after falling in the offensive zone – definitely a frustration penalty – and Kyle Turris’ shot deflected off of Dennis Wideman’s ankle and past Elliott. Again, Zack Smith was all up in Elliott’s crease screening his view of the proceedings. Shots were 11-4 Ottawa.
Chris Driedger took over in net in the second period. The Flames began the period with 1:24 in power play time. They didn’t really pressure much, but they scored as PP time was winding down. After the initial point shot from Hamilton was stopped, Alex Chiasson set up Bennett with a nice no-look pass that Bennett put past Driedger from the goal-mouth to tie the game at 2-2.
The Flames continued to play rather passively, though, but they got a weird goal to put themselves back on top. As a power play expired, Micheal Ferland got a nice shot off that Driedger kicked aside. The rebound went to Hamilton on the side boards and he chipped it on net (and it went back-bar-and-out) to make it 3-2.
Dougie Hamilton’s 2nd goal pic.twitter.com/X7VMdxMwA1
— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 29, 2016
The Flames had a few chances to pad their lead against a shaky Driedger (and a shaky Senators defense), including Wideman getting a point shot with the net wide open that somehow didn’t go in, but they failed to get anything else done during the period. Shots were 15-8 Ottawa.
The third was a bit scrambly, but the Flames managed to take advantage of a few defensive miscues by Ottawa (and a shaky goaltender). They didn’t have a ton of great chances, but they made the most of them. Chiasson got sprung into the Ottawa zone and showed a ton of patience waiting for his linemates to arrive. He made a quick pass to Johnny Gaudreau, who set it up for a nice one-timer from Monahan to make it 4-2. A few minutes later, a nice play at the blueline by Matthew Tkachuk sprung Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik on a 2-on-1 against Dion Phaneuf, leading to a Frolik goal and a 5-2 lead. Shots were 7-7 in the final frame.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
They figured out Ottawa’s defense mid-way through the second period. They got a ton of chip and chase plays going and got Ottawa’s blueliners running around their own end. It created chaos for a young, inexperienced goaltender, which led to a flurry of goals and a Flames victory.
Shots were more or less even at even strength (21-19 for Ottawa). But the Flames managed to avoid giving Ottawa too many chances late and managed to grind out the win.
If you’re curious about special teams, here’s all you need to know: Ottawa out-shot Calgary on Ottawa’s PPs 8-0 and on Calgary’s PPs 4-0. It wasn’t a great night for the special teams units in red.
THE TURNING POINT
Hammond was solid in Ottawa’s net in the first period, Hamilton’s goal aside. His injury really knocked the Senators off-kilter and let the Flames back into the game. The Flames came out flying after the first intermission, tied it up early with a greasey goal from Bennett, and never looked back.
Hamilton. Two goals and assist, and a game generally devoid of big defensive gaffes.
Chiasson, Gaudreau and Elliott were all also sharp.
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall.)
THIS AND THAT
I had to leave at 1-0 Flames. That is the true secret to the Sens’ power play success.
— Bonk’s Mullet (@BonksMullet) October 29, 2016
That was the first goal Chris Driedger ever allowed in the NHL.
— Scary Name Classic (@ryanclassic) October 29, 2016
If #Sens goalie Chris Driedger gets hurt 32-yr-old Calgary fireman Todd Ford will be between pipes for NHL debut. He’s dressing downstairs.
— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) October 29, 2016
Kris Versteeg, Tkachuk and Bennett were all limited to just three shifts in the third period.
Matt Stajan received the CPS Hat following the game.
“They’re kind of a team that just throws everything to the net, whether it’s the corner or whether it’s the point. I think after we recognized that, after the first, guys kind of got in a lot of shot lanes. You saw Lance Bouma have a huge block and a couple guys take it off the skates. Those are the type of plays that can turn games around for you.” – Flames goalie Brian Elliott on the team minimizing traffic and deflections following the first period.
“We were out-played. I didn’t like our game. i thought for five minutes in the first we had a good push, and for about five minutes in the second. I thought they controlled maybe 15 or 20 minutes of those periods pretty handily. Our game got a little bit better in the third, obviously, when we had the lead and they started to press a little bit.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan assessing his team’s performance.
“It wasn’t so much adjustments: we’ve got to stop taking stupid penalties. It’s not an epidemic yet, but it’s a concern, and we’re going to nip it. We went to three lines and our team kind of got a little juice out of it. The players that were there all play on the edge and they give us some life, but you’ve got to walk the right lines.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on benching Versteeg, Tkachuk and Bennett early in the third period.
The Flames (4-4-1) return to the practice ice tomorrow and prepare to host the powerhouse Washington Capitals on Sunday evening at the ‘Dome in a special 7:30 p.m. start.