Post-Game: The best of times, the blurst of times


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(Christopher Hanewinckel / USA Today Sports)

Sometimes it seems like the Calgary Flames are allergic to making life easier on themselves. How many times this season have they had a chance to take a big step – getting to .500, getting into a wildcard spot, getting into a divisional spot, or giving themselves some breathing room on a team chasing them – only for them to collapse and make their own lives miserable.

Tuesday night’s game between Calgary and the Nashville Predators was the best and the worst of the 2016-17 Flames season all out for the world to see. But somehow their shoddy defense and iffy structural play in the second period wasn’t enough for them to lose, as they put up six goals on the board en route to a zany 6-5 overtime victory.

THE RUNDOWN

The first chunk of the first period was fairly tentative, though the Flames capitalized early; Johnny Gaudreau entered the Nashville zone with speed and fed Micheal Ferland for a one-timer that beat Pekke Rinne to make it 1-0. P.K. Subban tied it up a little while later off a wrister from the point that was initially waved off due to incidental contact from Kevin Fiala, but was allowed after a coach’s challenge. The Flames regained their lead a little bit later from a familiar source: a Mikael Backlund goal off a rebound from a Matthew Tkachuk shot. Ferland added his second of the goal (and period) on a two-on-one – going shot all the way – and extended the lead to 3-1. Shots were 10-9 Nashville.

The Flames extended their lead to 4-1 early in the second, as Dougie Hamilton roamed in from the point and beat Rinne through traffic – Gaudreau hung out inside the blueline after his zone entry and for some reason all of Nashville’s players just clogged up the slot on their own. That chased Rinne from the game.

Then the wheels fell off. Filip Forsberg made it 4-2 off a combination of a really nice individual effort and Deryk Engelland and Backlund getting discombobulated in their own end. With Hamilton in the penalty box, Ryan Ellis’ point shot was tipped by Colin Wilson to make it 4-3. A little bit later, the Flames repeatedly failed to clear their zone, started running around, and Forsberg potted in a rebound to make it 4-4. Finally, the Predators made it 5-4 off an awful outlet pass by T.J. Brodie that was intercepted by Ryan Johansen and passed to (who else?) Forsberg for a one-timer and a hat-trick. All-told, the Flames allowed four goals in roughly eight and a half minutes. Shots were 10-10.

Down a goal in a game they really needed to win, the Flames were better in the third and out-shot Nashville 10-8. They finally broke through and tied things up on a really nice outlet pass from Tkachuk which allowed Backlund to score his second of the game to make it 5-5.

For the second game in a row, the Flames went to overtime. This time they got the go-ahead goal from their captain, as Mark Giordano’s pass attempt to Gaudreau bonked in off Forsberg’s skate to ice it.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

On Saturday, the Flames kept at it for 60 minutes and got a point. On Tuesday, the Flames regrouped after their rough second half of the second period and played the third period roughly the same way they did in the first period.

They were better than the Predators for the first 30 minutes and the last 20 minutes (plus overtime), and were good enough in those 50 non-consecutive minutes that their terrible 10 minutes didn’t cost them a win. It was close, but they were able to stick to it and not lose.

Somehow.

THE TURNING POINT

Tkachuk took a penalty with 2:38 left in the third, giving the Predators a late power play. The Flames managed to kill it off, which allowed them to get to overtime (and eventually win).

RED WARRIOR

As much as we want to reward the two-goal performance from Backlund, Gaudreau had four assists and was incredibly dangerous in the offensive end.

Also good tonight? Michael Frolik, Backlund, Giordano, Hamilton and Ferland. Honestly? Brian Elliott was pretty solid in net despite giving up five, as four of the five goals he gave up were direct results of bad defensive play by the guys in front of him (or were redirects on the power play).

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Tkachuk 63.2 14.3 2.025
Brouwer 63.2 66.7 0.250
Giordano 62.5 10.0 2.400
Brodie 61.3 50.0 0.375
Hamilton 60.7 10.0 2.000
Versteeg 60.0 66.7 0.345
Frolik 58.3 12.5 0.510
Backlund 56.5 12.5 1.960
Stajan 53.3 50.0 0.050
Engelland 51.7 57.1 0.325
Monahan 51.6 42.9 2.285
Bennett 50.0 71.4 0.190
Gaudreau 48.5 42.9 3.050
Bouma 47.1 33.3 -0.225
Ferland 46.7 50.0 1.925
Stone 44.1 55.6 0.350
Chiasson 41.2 50.0 -0.185
Bartkowski 33.3 60.0 -0.250
Elliott -1.450

THIS AND THAT

Sam Bennett fought Johansen and Ferland fought Austin Watson, though the latter bout was ruled “roughing” despite obviously being an actual fight.

Backlund remains the Flames’ leading scorer with 41 points through 60 games. Gaudreau and Tkachuk are both two points back.

UP NEXT

The Flames (30-26-4) are off to sunny Florida. They’ll play in Tampa Bay on Thursday in the front end of a back-to-back that also takes them to Sunrise, Florida on Friday to face the Panthers.

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  • Greatsave

    Not sure why “trade Brodie” and “let Elliott walk” are my only options here.

    The 3rd-round pick is in 2018. Plenty of time for Treliving to recover that. So much money coming off the books this offseason that I’m not concerned about $4.5m. As early as last summer I was predicting that it’d cost $9-10m between Bennett and Elliott. Looks like Bennett won’t cost as much as we feared, due to his sophomore slump. I’m fine with giving Elliott $4-5m per (but no more than 3 years), if he carries this team down the stretch like the #1 we hoped he’d be.