Post-Game: Johnson comes up big against Penguins


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(Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports)

The Calgary Flames arrived in Pittsburgh this evening hoping for a big effort against the Penguins. The Flames have had a pretty good stretch recently and, as they’re heading into their bye week, could really use a pair of points to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race.

Well, thanks to a great performance by Chad Johnson and some timely goals the Flames beat the defending Stanley Cup champions 3-2 in a shootout.

THE RUNDOWN

The opening period was rather tentative, with the Flames failing to register many good scoring chances and generally just trying to avoid getting lit up by the Penguins early on. Neither side scored. Shots were 7-7.

The Penguins stepped on the gas in the first half of the second period. They were all over the Flames, who were really held in it by their goaltender. Johnson was very good, though some credit has to go to his teammates for giving him clean looks at shots as much as possible. Near the end of the period things began to open up for the Flames… and they managed to capitalize. Micheal Ferland scored on a breakaway, stealing the puck from Sidney Crosby just inside the Flames blueline. Ferland out-raced Crosby and Brian Dumoulin and beat Matt Murray to make it 1-0.

A few minutes later the Flames went up 2-0 off a really nice passing sequence by the team’s best line. Michael Frolik tipped a Matthew Tkachuk shot past Murray.

Shots were 14-7 Penguins in the second.

The Flames kept defending well in the third, but they made a couple mistakes that cost them later in the period. After the fourth line iced it – and were stranded out against Crosby’s line – Chris Kunitz beat Johnson just inside the near post to make it 2-1. As regulation was winding down, Dennis Wideman haphazardly tossed the puck up the middle… where it was intercepted by the Penguins and Jake Guentzel beat Johnson with a quick wrister to tie the game at 2-2. Shots were 12-9 Penguins in the third.

It went to overtime! The Flames got a power play and had tons of zone time – and shots, leading 7-0 – but couldn’t score. (Sean Monahan did score, but it was waved off because Murray lost his mask during the sequence.) But Kris Versteeg beat Murray in the shootout and Johnson stopped all three Penguins to ice this one.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They won the goaltending duel. Johnson was better than Murray overall and was able to cover up for his team’s occasional defensive miscues. But don’t discount the Flames overall; they gave up more shots and chances, but they did a good job at making life difficult for Crosby for three periods.

THE TURNING POINT

You could probably list off a half-dozen solid Johnson saves here. But in general, overtime was an indicator that the Flames were gonna be fine. They blew a two goal lead in the third, but they seemed like they were out for blood in overtime and they were unlucky enough to have to finish this off in overtime.

RED WARRIOR

Johnson was easily Calgary’s best player. But the 3M Line were all quite good, Brodie had some nice moments, and Versteeg followed up being tossed out of the game on Sunday with the game-deciding shootout goal here.

Re-sign him, Brad.

THE NUMBERS

(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Data via Natural Stat Trick.)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Brodie 48.3 40.0 -0.025
Monahan 46.2 50.0 -0.140
Wideman 41.7 30.0 -0.225
Versteeg 41.2 37.5 0.225
Tkachuk 41.2 12.5 0.990
Brouwer 40.0 44.4 -0.220
Gaudreau 39.3 50.0 -0.300
Frolik 37.5 11.1 0.890
Bennett 37.5 37.5 -0.040
Hamilton 36.8 21.4 0.150
Chiasson 35.7 28.6 -0.125
Giordano 35.1 17.7 -0.225
Hathaway 35.0 0.0 -0.300
Ferland 35.0 0.0 0.600
Backlund 35.0 11.1 0.615
Stajan 29.2 0.0 -0.530
Kulak 27.8 33.3 -0.350
Engelland 27.8 20.0 -0.350
Johnson 1.600

THIS AND THAT

Gaudreau took his first minor penalty of 2016-17. His dreams of winning the Lady Byng probably aren’t completely dashed, but he probably should try to stay out of the box from here on out.

Monahan is still stuck on 99 career NHL goals.

UP NEXT

The Flames (28-25-3) fly home tonight and don’t even practice again until Sunday afternoon as part of the NHL’s weird new bye week system. They’re back in action on Monday night when they host the Arizona Coyotes.

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  • MontanaMan

    Good win for the Flames and great to see a few locals finding their stride including Brodie, Monahan, Gio and a good goaltender battle. One area of concern for me is Gaudreau who continues to struggle and really hasn’t looked strong out there this season. Let’s hope he can take advantage of this break and come back for a strong final stretch.

  • freethe flames

    Good team win. We got some help as well. The Kings two games in hand are FLA and Arizona. I wonder if the 8th spot might not come down to the 4 games we play the Kings in the last month?

  • Stu Cazz

    Flames goaltending coach needs to prove his worth and straighten out Johnson on his glove side. That had been his weakness and all teams know it. Let’s fix this issue now!!

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I’ve noticed a lot of high glove-side goals as well. I’m not sure how much coaches can impact player tendencies, aside from pointing out the pattern.

  • cgyokgn

    Didn’t have a chance to follow/watch the game but saw the highlights posted above. Wow, what a beauty goal from Ferland; makes it even more amazing that he stole the puck from Crosby. Need to see more of that from Ferland!

    Too bad they weren’t able to cash in on at least one of their four PPs but on the other hand, they didn’t give up a PPG. I like the shooters GG chose for the shootout.

    A really big win over a very good team!

  • smatic10

    It’s amazing that we’ve stayed in the playoff picture all year despite Monahan being streaky, Gaudreau not at his best, Brodie not being consistent, Bennett’s offense really struggling, Gio taking a step back, and Wideman messing up time and time again.

    My prediction was and still stands:

    If we find a suitable number 4 dman (either internally or through trade/waivers) and our top players can start contributing at even strength, we’ll squeeze into the playoffs in the last wildcard spot.

    If everything stays the same, we will miss the playoffs. The Blues are starting to heat up and I just don’t see L.A missing the playoffs with Carter scoring and Quick set to return perhaps in March.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      Kings have lost their last 2 games 5-0. For what that’s worth.

      And let’s not forget about another team that’s warming up besides the blues: calgary flames

  • JBulls

    Gulutzan needs to get a GD clue when it comes to Wideman. Are you that stubborn, or just dumb? Because this is a guy who can and will cost you the game on any given night.

    Good lord it’s beyond frustrating at this point. Even after a win.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the GM, didn’t insist on giving Wideman minutes. I don’t know if there is a reasonable chance of trading him now, but the chances are close to 0, if he gets buried. That said, time to cut your losses, bench him.

  • freethe flames

    I agree with blowing the play dead when a goalies mask comes off; player safety must come first. However as the mask came off w/o contact by a another player should it not be considered delay of game on the goalie? Murray was the one who caused his own mask to come off therefore he delayed the flow of the game.

  • freethe flames

    Off topic; I see Nashville paid a 4th rounder for Vernon Fiddler. What does that make a Bouma, Stajan, Versteeg or Chiasson worth? (Not saying you trade them all or even any of them but BT has to be looking at doing something)(note I mention Versteeg and Stajan b/c I think they get a higher return)

    If we can’t move Wideman and GG is fixed on playing a RHD with TJ then we need to acquire an upgrade at RHD over Wideman and Engs. That means we need to move assets or surplus players and we don’t have a lot of options. Bouma/Chiasson/FHamilton are interchangeable and replaceable so moving one of them would not hurt this team. Moving one of JJ/Kulak/Spoon would also not hurt this team and having Wideman as the 7th defenceman would likely help this team. If you could turn a combination of 1 of those forwards and 1 of those defenders into some other assets and flip those assets into a test drive/rental #4 defender I say get it done.

  • Blackgold

    As an Oiler fan I say a good win by the Flames. Kept with it and didn’t fold after losing the lead. Somehow they are staying in the playoff picture. Good goaltending helps you win these types of games. As for Murray’s losing his mask, it was bumped by contact and was partly lifted off. He finished it off himself as most goalies do. It is tough to get a mask back in position when there is play around you, so easiest thing is to complete the job and knock it off. Goalies do this all the time and no penalties are ever given out for that.

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Anybody know why the jersey tie rule even exists?

    Was there a rash of jersey related deaths I don’t recall?

    I think if I was versteeg or GG I would have tried to go with it came undone during the fight.

    • Blackgold

      The rule was put in for 2 reasons. Without a jersey the player has an advantage because there is nothing to grab on to and stop from him swinging. The other, it doesn’t look very good with the jerseys off. They didn’t think it looked very professional.