Through the first 30 minutes of tonight’s game at the Scotiabank Saddledome, it seemed like the Calgary Flames and the Anaheim Ducks were destined to grind out a low-scoring, tight-checking game. Then the game got wacky. On the final night of the Flames’ three game home-stand, they erupted for eight goals in a game that featured three fights and 11 goals.
The Flames got back to the .500 mark emphatically by way of an 8-3 victory over Anaheim.
The Flames were energetic in the first period, though they couldn’t execute as well as they probably would’ve liked. Johnny Gaudreau scored on his very first shift on a drop-pass from Sam Bennett that Gaudreau almost over-skated. The shot eluded Jonathan Berner and the Flames led 1-0. Shots were 11-7 for the Ducks in the opening period, but they didn’t really create any dangerous chances.
The second period was really a tale of two segments. The Ducks tied the game early in the period, as T.J. Brodie coughed up a puck behind the Flames net and it trickled out into the slot for Ryan Kesler to bury. That made it 1-1. Mid-way through the period, everything seemed to click for the Flames and the Ducks seemingly forgot how to play ice hockey.
Calgary regained the lead about half-way through the period on the power play, as Troy Brouwer got his stick on a bouncing puck after some nice passing throughout the offensive zone – the Flames won the initial draw and then had possession and pressure for about 61 continuous seconds.
The Flames took the lead 52 seconds later, as Bennett made a really nice individual effort to keep a puck on-side at the Ducks blueline – with roughly half of Anaheim’s skaters way up ice already – giving his line time for some nice passing. Bennett and Gaudreau combined on a chance that Bernier stopped, but Alex Chiasson picked up the scraps to make it 3-1.
35 seconds after that goal, the Flames went up 4-1 after a nice individual effort by Matt Stajan to maintain possession of the puck on a contested zone entry. He battled from the blueline to behind the net, then chucked the puck out to the point. Dennis Wideman unleashed a slapper that Stajan got a piece of on its way past Bernier.
A few minutes after that, the Flames connected again on a pair of rapid-fire goals. On a power play that was dwindling, Mikael Backlund and Chiasson were playing catch below the goal line. Bennett snuck into the slot during all of this, and got his stick on a puck that was sent out front and tipped it past Bernier to make it 5-1. 55 seconds after that, another nice individual effort to maintain possession – this time by Garnet Hathaway – led to a puck teed up at the point for Dougie Hamilton and a 6-1 lead. Shots were 13-7 Calgary in the second.
The third period began with a flurry of hits, fights and chippy play. The Flames extended their lead to 7-1 off a nice individual effort by Matthew Tkachuk. He held the puck in at the blueline, flung it deep into the zone to Kirs Versteeg, who put it in the slot for a tap-in for Sean Monahan. The lead was extended to 8-1 via a short-handed 2-on-0 breakaway for Mark Giordano and Brouwer, which saw Giordano score. Ryan Kesler and Logan Shaw responded late for the Ducks (just 20 seconds apart), but couldn’t get close to closing the chasm between these two clubs tonight. Shots were 15-5 Anaheim in the third.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames were simply more energetic, better and luckier than the Ducks tonight. Anaheim was the victim of circumstances here on the back end of a back-to-back, but the Flames made a lot of scoring chances happen with smart individual efforts – half of Calgary’s goals were preceded by nice back-checking or battling on the boards. But it also helps that the Ducks seemed completely terrified of the Flames when they had the puck, particularly after the Flames got a 3-1 lead.
They managed to out-score the Ducks both at even-strength (5-2) and on special teams (3-1). When you do that, you should win most of the time.
THE TURNING POINT
Chiasson’s goal to make it 3-1 completely deflated the Ducks bench. Bennett managed to hold the puck in and that left his line with plenty of time and space. They made it count, and it was off to the races from there.
There are plenty of contenders. Let’s go simple and go with Gaudreau, whose return seemed to energize the entire bench.
Also having good efforts: Bennett, Chiasson, Stajan and Hathaway. Heck, possession stats aside (see below), nobody was particular bad in red tonight.
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall.)
THIS AND THAT
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 4, 2016
As noted elsewhere, Micheal Ferland was injured in a first period fight with Kevin Bieksa. (It’s not thought to be serious.) The third got scrappy, with a pair of fights: Deryk Engelland scrapped with Jared Boll and Alex Chiasson completed his Gordie Howe Hat Trick when he fought Joseph Cramarossa.
T.J. Brodie led the Flames in ice-time with 22:56…but failed to register a single point.
This was the first time the Flames scored five goals in a single period since 2011. It was the first time they scored eight or more goals since an 8-1 win against Edmonton in March 2014.
RC said Bernier had to go the distance as Gibson had stomach flu. Even invoked the lovely word diarrhea. Would have pulled JB after four.
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) December 5, 2016
“Eight different goal-scorers is good, too, it’s good for morale. Bringing Johnny back into the mix, putting him with Benny and Chaser, made it harder for teams to match up against us. From what I saw, they played a solid game.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s performance and the decision to put Gaudreau with Bennett and Chiasson tonight.
“We took a penalty along the wall and they scored on the power play, and it seemed like the roof caved in from that point. I thought for 30 minutes of the hockey game we were in it, we were playing our game, we seemed to have a lot of momentum going our way after we scored the goal. We were doing a lot of things right, and it was tight, that’s the way you have to play on the road, off a back-to-back. Then they got the one and it seemed like the roof caved in on us.” – Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle on the game getting away from his team in the second period.
The Flames (13-13-2) hit the road once again for a quick two-game jaunt. Their road trip begins Tuesday in Dallas. They’re back home on Saturday night when they host the Winnipeg Jets.