Post-Game: Flames win in OT, wound Kings hopes

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(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)

In every season, there are games that can seemingly swing a season. Tonight’s contest between the Calgary Flames and the Los Angeles Kings wasn’t going to kill Calgary’s playoff chances. But playing against a divisional rival (and a team behind them in the standings), the Flames had a chance to make their playoff hopes more realistic and their lives much easier down the stretch if they could find a way to win.

The Flames never held a lead in this game, but they seemed like a poised, measured, structured team for the most part en route to a 2-1 overtime victory at the Saddledome. While they did seemingly let the Kings dictate the pace at times, they did enough to capture two points.

THE RUNDOWN

Heading in, I somewhat expected a playoff atmosphere full of rough-and-tumble hockey. What we got was instead more akin to a chess match of defensive hockey with the physicality creeping in in the later stages of the game.

Tanner Pearson opened the scoring for the Kings on a weird play. With Matt Stajan in the penalty box, Pearson got an initial shot off that was stopped by Elliott. But Elliott couldn’t cover the puck up and Pearson got three good whacks at it, which pushed the puck (and Elliott’s left pad) into the net. The refs blew it down, then chatted and ruled it was a goal. Gulutzan used his challenge but the good stood.

The Flames couldn’t really generate much at even strength early on. Shots were 11-8 Kings.

The visitors began to fatigue in the second period, likely a product of their wild 5-4 loss to Minnesota the night before. The Flames had a few good shifts in the Kings end and then the dam broke.

The Flames had a bunch of zone time and several chances, but only got the one goal. Shots were 13-6 in the period in their favour.

Neither team scored in the third. The Kings came out of the gates like a team that knew they couldn’t afford another loss after losing in Minnesota. The Flames came out rather patiently. Shots were 11-8 for the visitors.

So off to overtime we went and after a few rushes in either direction, Mikael Backlund sprung T.J. Brodie for a breakaway and the defender went top shelf on Ben Bishop to clinch this one by a 2-1 score.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

This will sound like a broken record, but they stuck with their system and didn’t open things up too much. The adherence to structure often made the game seem a tad slow and plodding, but the Flames simply didn’t let the Kings egg them into breaking their structure and trying to play an end-to-end game.

Quite simply, the Flames were seemingly confident enough in their game plan that they were content to wait for the Kings to make mistakes. They did, they took advantage, and they managed to get two points.

THE TURNING POINT

So, the Kings almost scored with 9 seconds left. A Jake Muzzin dump-in careened off of Mark Giordano, then bounced off Elliott and seemingly hugged the goal line as it trickled across the crease. Giordano shouted at Elliott to not fall back and collected the puck.

It would’ve been a shame for the Flames to lose like that. Fortunately for them, they didn’t.

RED WARRIOR

Giordano had a really solid game, weird bounce that almost beat Elliott aside. He had a nice feed to Ferland on the game-tying goal and he and Dougie Hamilton were a force for much of the game.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Giordano 59.0 56.3 1.750
Hamilton 55.0 56.3 0.700
Gaudreau 51.4 75.0 0.350
Frolik 50.0 26.7 0.450
Monahan 50.0 75.0 0.445
Tkachuk 46.4 28.6 0.450
Backlund 45.2 28.6 0.580
Chiasson 43.8 16.7 -0.050
Brodie 43.6 50.0 1.075
Stajan 42.9 0.0 -0.210
Ferland 42.9 75.0 0.625
Stone 42.4 52.4 -0.025
Brouwer 37.0 33.3 -0.300
Bennett 34.5 40.0 -0.325
Versteeg 33.3 40.0 -0.425
Bouma 33.3 0.0 -0.125
Engelland 27.6 0.0 -0.475
Bartkowski 23.3 0.0 -0.700
Elliott 2.050

THIS AND THAT

Backlund’s assist on the overtime goal bumped him up to 45 points, extending his scoring lead over Johnny Gaudreau to two points.

The Flames finish with a 9-2-1 record in the month of February.

Elliott opened the post-game scrum with a complement of Roger Million’s bow tie before fielding questions.

QUOTABLE

“Honestly, I thought it had a good shot of going in. I knew Moose didn’t
really know where it was. I was hoping he had it. But the reaction of
the crowd made me think to look behind him to the side of him because it
must have been trickling and sure enough, it was. Hey, lucky break. You
get some of those sometimes and we’ll take it, for sure.” – Flames captain Mark Giordano, on the late shot that deflected off himself and goalie Brian Elliott and almost went in.

“The emotion was good. I thought that in a game like this, your emotion can get the best of you. I thought our guys did a good job of staying with it, staying the course. They were prepared for what type of game it was going to be, and they stuck with it.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on how his team managed their emotion in the playoff-like atmosphere.

MAGIC NUMBERS

Stick-tap to our pal (and yours) Pat Steinberg for busting out the slide-ruler to do the initial calculations on these!

The Flames magic number to clinch began the night at 18. With the Flames overtime win (-1) and Los Angeles’ overtime loss (-0.5), it has dropped to 16.5. Any combination of 16.5 Flames wins or Kings losses clinches a playoff berth for Calgary.

UP NEXT

The Flames (34-26-4) are off tomorrow. They’re back on the practice ice on Thursday and back in game action on Friday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings.

But we’ll be with you throughout tomorrow’s festivities!

  • smatic10

    Gully’s fist pump with Cameron after Brodie’s goal was the most emotion I’ve ever seen out of him.

    That puck not sneaking in behind Elliott was the hockey gods returning the favor after allowing that LA goal.

    Keep it going boys!

  • The Sultan

    I don’t want to complain about the refs but I’m going to anyways. It’s blatantly clear they have a bias against Calgary, and it’s absolutely pathetic and bush league that the NHL allows it to happen. First all the slashes on Gaudreau. Always coming out on the wrong end of a scrum. Never winning a Coach’s Challenge. Pushing the goalie onto the net and counting it as a goal. And let’s not even mention the amount of times I saw Tkachuk get speared and high-sticked.

    Good on you Flames for sticking it to the Queens, who pretty much blew their season when they traded for Bishop, and sticking it to the NHL by winning this game.

    I know referees are only human, but this is why the crowd cheers every time one of them gets hit with a puck or by another player. Because they suckered, and if all the major sports leagues had a referee Battle Royale, the NHL refs wouldn’t even be allowed to enter because they are so far below their peers in other sports.

  • Lucky 13

    Smooth Selke Backlund pass to Brodie ( looked like Bobby Orr) and deked Bishop out of his slim goalie pants to clinch this win!

    Ferland is a monster who is ready for some post season!

  • The Sultan

    I don’t want to complain about the refs but I’m going to anyways. It’s blatantly clear they have a bias against Calgary, and it’s absolutely pathetic and bush league that the NHL allows it to happen. First all the slashes on Gaudreau. Always coming out on the wrong end of a scrum. Never winning a Coach’s Challenge. Pushing the goalie onto the net and counting it as a goal. And let’s not even mention the amount of times I saw Tkachuk get speared and high-sticked.

    Good on you Flames for sticking it to the Queens, who pretty much blew their season when they traded for Bishop, and sticking it to the NHL by winning this game.

    I know referees are only human, but this is why the crowd cheers every time one of them gets hit with a puck or by another player. Because they suckered, and if all the major sports leagues had a referee Battle Royale, the NHL refs wouldn’t even be allowed to enter because they are so far below their peers in other sports.

  • The Sultan

    I don’t want to complain about the refs but I’m going to anyways. It’s blatantly clear they have a bias against Calgary, and it’s absolutely pathetic and bush league that the NHL allows it to happen. First all the slashes on Gaudreau. Always coming out on the wrong end of a scrum. Never winning a Coach’s Challenge. Pushing the goalie onto the net and counting it as a goal. And let’s not even mention the amount of times I saw Tkachuk get speared and high-sticked.

    Good on you Flames for sticking it to the Queens, who pretty much blew their season when they traded for Bishop, and sticking it to the NHL by winning this game.

    I know referees are only human, but this is why the crowd cheers every time one of them gets hit with a puck or by another player. Because they suckered, and if all the major sports leagues had a referee Battle Royale, the NHL refs wouldn’t even be allowed to enter because they are so far below their peers in other sports.

    • Guest

      The Kings shoot a lot from all over – not lots of high quality shots except for a few scrambles. We had a ton of blocks and deflections.

      They dominated us in November. This was much closer.

  • Prototype369

    TJ Crosby.

    Seriously that head bob, stick shake and top shelf backhand was pure filth. I’m surprised they didn’t kick him out for indecent exposure

  • cgyokgn

    Really tight game… nerve-wracking for fans. When I checked OT records, I was surprised and a bit worried when I saw LA had a 10 – 2 record (Flames were 6 – 2).

    What a stretch pass by Backs and a beauty finish by Brodie… only his 5th goal of the year, but what a goal it was!

  • Just.Visiting

    Adding Stone and Bartkowski, pairing Stone with Brodie and moving Ferland with Monahan and Johnny has changed the entire dynamic of the team.

    Bennett has been looking a lot better lately too, so it would be great to see him get a few points to keep that momentum going.

    The goalies have looked a lot better as well lately.

    Not so sure about the fancy stats above. Johnny was on fire for the portion of the game I was able to see.

    Overall, I think the current line configurations and defence pairings are the best choices the coaches can make, and I have no problem going into the playoffs without making a splash tomorrow by trading off some tomorrow for some near term help.

    The residual concern to me is the first PP configuration. With the way that Ferland is playing, I’d have him out there with Sean and Johnny and I’d have Dougie on the point instead of Versteeg. With the way that Brodie is playing at the moment, I’m comfortable with him on the other point because of his skating and passing. I’m not sure why this configuration would not at least be tried.

    Let’s hope that the momentum continues.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    That was a clutch win. The team is showing great character which was something they were sorely lacking a few months ago. I agree that we need to get Ferland’s shot on the PP. I really hope we get to see playoff hockey…we seem to be built for it.

  • Truculence

    Good game. The Flames, surprisingly, were the more physical team. I mean Gio, Bennett, and Ferland had some monster hits, and Tkachuk was a thorn on Doughty’s side all night. Tkachucky Cheese reminds me a lot of Kesler in his prime ( and I absolutely hate Kesler). Why is it that Americans always make the best pests/as$holes?

    The Flames did take the pedal off the metal for the latter half of the third period, though. And Bartkowski and Engelland were tire fires for most of the night (the Kings best chances mostly came when that pairing was on the ice).

    The Flames also were not sharp to start the OT, and Carter almost made them pay for it.

    But give props to our boys: they played a very desperate team and clinched the two points on predatory plays.

    p.s. Ferly is starting to go full beast mode, and if the Flames choose to protect Brouwer over him I’m gonna personally ruffle Burkie’s hair for him.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Why Burke and not Tre? Are you telling me the Flames are paying 2 men do to the job of 1? What about their separate spheres of control?

        Optics of exposing Brouwer would look terrible and send the wrong message to players near and far. Brower took a deep discount to sign with Calgary. Tre also said that at the time of Brouwer’s signing that he was an integral piece moving forward, and then to turn on a dime and expose the kid after one year of a four year deal says that Tre was insincere or inconsistent. Calgary is a hard enough sell to a lot of players to begin with simply because of its geography, but to then have a forked-tongue GM would be poison.

        Exposing Brouwer over Ferland would be fan-friendly but it would make Calgary seem an even uglier place to work for players and coaches.

        If Tre had pandered to the fans in Oct and Nove when the yobs wanted Gully, Johnny, Sean, Gio, Hammy, Moose and more run out of town, what kind of club would they have now?

        Brouwer was not brought to the club to get it in the playoffs. He was brought in to lead, succeed and achieve in the playoffs. Tre bringing a player of Brouwer’s ilk at this stage of the rebuild was Tre’ firm commitment that he thought the Flames were going to compete in the playoffs this season, despite all the critics who told him that was a pipe dream.

        Exposing Brouwer unless he expressly asks to be exposed hoping to hook up with his old pal Mcphee in Sin City might make a lot of fickle fans happy, but it would be the wrong thing to do for the overall health of the team.

        As in all expansion drafts, no player gets took unless the team holding his rights agrees to having him took. In the case of Ferland, if Tre chooses not to protect him but wants to retain him, Tre tells McPhee not to take Ferland because the bright lights and bountiful booze in LV might prove to big a temptation for the kid and off the wagon he falls. If McPhee really wants him, then the Flames surrender a 2nd or 3rd round pick for a low-level LV prospect down the road. Of course, McPhee can only use this option a few times during the draft or else he earns a bad reputation among his fellow GMs in the old boys’ network. Pissing on too many old boys is not a recommended strategy if one wishes to be part of the network or even part of the league for very long.

        Ferland will be fine exposed as LV won’t touch him unless the Flames don’t care if LV takes him or not. McPhee is already an well-established member of the old boys’ club so he knows the game like the back of his hand.

        Bottom line: nothing to see here, folks.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            Brouwer is a Tre signing–the biggest FA signing of Tre’s career. Can’t turn his back on this prized signing after the first year of a four-year deal. What does that say about Tre’s vision and commitment?

            No player will get drafted from the Flames unprotected list unless the Flames are willing to let him go. If the Flames want to keep Ferland but not protect him, he stays a Flames after some backstage dealing.

      • Kevin R

        FFS can we end this debate now & both Ferland & Brouwer are both getting protected. I see no one & I mean no one else I am worried about losing. So why have a stupid argument that is a mute point.
        Flames forwards being protected:
        Bennett, Gaudreau, Monahan, Frolik, Backlund, Ferland, Brouwer

        Next question?

        • Lucky 13

          Haha Agreed, and I wasn’t being serious at any point, thus the facetious remark.

          I guess Nigel can’t read between the lines, or even color between them, cuz he went off like s banchie on this.

          Sorry Nigel, but you missed the whole sarcasm statement..

          Let’s move on! 🙂

          Sorry FN for the debacle

  • HockeyNut31

    Himynameistaylor, typical Oiler overconfidence. Kept hearing how the Cups would be flowing to Edmonton after drafting Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov. How’s that working for you so far. Fluking out on a lottery pick is the only reason your team is even relevant this year. Tee up on that.

  • HockeyNut31

    ChinookArchYYC wrote:
    Question what’s a home town discount for McDavid look like? $12.5 M x 4 years? If so, his raise and Draisaitl at (let’s say) $6M, and of course $7M for Lucic, means Edmonton will pay around $25M for 3 guys long term. I love it.

    Don’t forget Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle at $6 mil and Sekera at $5.5.

    Scary cap times coming for Edmonton.

  • Grayone

    What an entertaining game … playoff atmosphere for sure … and those were 2 big points in the end! Well done boyz!

    But holy smokes those Kings are a good team for one on a tenuous playoff run! Kopitar, Carter,Dougthy (sp??) are just terrific players. Yah we caught a break at the end of the game with that weird deflection off Gio BUT how about Carter inexplicably missing what shoulda been a tap-in early in OT? Admission: I had my eyes closed the odd time when Kopitar, Carter et al got the puck at 25-30 feet out … I thought for sure they would sift one through.

    Big confidence builder for the boyz … now don’t get trapped by Detroit on Friday!! Please.

    PS: the Ferland train keeps rolling … great shift to tie the game … it looked like he used Muzzin like a trampoline off the boards and Muzzin was wondering what the ringing noise was in this head! Great hit … great read by ferland to get back into scoring position .. and yet another clinical finish on a very good goaltender!! wow

  • Albertabeef

    A GM can expose a player he traded for without admitting the player is a bad fit. But a GM who can’t admit his mistake and stands by that mistake and does nothing to fix it would be a bad GM. However Las Vegas will need players in that 4.5 million range. By exposing him we keep our future. That makes him valuable to the team.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Thanks for coming by, but there’s plenty of time for the Oilers to go ‘full-Oiler’, and fall out of the race. For all the talk of the Oiilers being a improved team this year, 30% of all points are fllowing through a single player.

    Question what’s a home town discount for McDavid look like? $12.5 M x 4 years?
    If so, his raise and Draisaitl at (let’s say) $6M, and of course $7M for Lucic, means Edmonton will pay around $25M for 3 guys long term. I love it.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    A rising tide lifts all boats. If you think the Flames can ink Matty long-term for $5-$6M a year, you’re dreaming. If McDavid and Matthews and Laine break double-digit annual contracts, Matty’s salary in a couple more years will make Johnny’s and Gio’s look like chump change. Ditto for Benny’s if he figures it out in another couple of years.