38Deryk Engelland.
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

Post-Game: The Streak Turns 10 Against the Pens

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a really good hockey team. They were missing eight regulars for Monday night’s contest against the Calgary Flames but make no mistake about it, they’re a damn fine hockey club. The Calgary Flames are the hottest team in the National Hockey League and they had their hands full all evening long at the Saddledome. It was 65 thrilling minutes of action, with the Flames narrowly grinding out a 4-3 shootout victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions.

The victory pushes the Flames a little bit closer to a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs and stretches their winning streak to a franchise record tying 10 games.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames were back on their heels early, as the Penguins attacked their zone with speed and numbers. It was that strategy that paid dividends for the visitors early, as after a near-miss on a previous approach the trio of Conor Sheary, Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby combined for a nice passing sequence and a tap-in goal for Sheary to make it 1-0.

The home side seemed to adjust, though, and ended up tying the game roughly 10 minutes later off a very clever sequence from the fourth line resulted in a nice goal. Alex Chiasson entered the zone and gave the puck to Deryk Engelland, who pinched to the outside of the face-off circle and flung the puck into the slot, where it careened in off a defender’s stick to make it 1-0. (Matt Stajan initially got credit.)

But the Penguins struck again two minutes later, with Michael Frolik serving a minor penalty. Lance Bouma got hung up trying to suppress the zone entry, leading to the other Flames defenders stopping in their tracks. Some nifty passing later, treating Engelland like a mere obstacle, and Evgeni Malkin had a tap-in to make it 2-1.

Shots were 12-10 Pittsburgh.

The Flames tied the game early in the second period on a goal from an unlikely source: Dennis Wideman. 94 seconds into the middle frame, Wideman’s fluttering shot careened off Ron Hainsey’s glove and past Marc-Andre Fleury – Sam Bennett took a couple wild swipes at the puck but only hit air – to make it 2-2.

The remainder of the period was fairly end to end, with the Penguins getting the better of the shots and chances (partially because they had two power plays to Calgary’s one). The Flames did struggle at times to make simple outlet plays and spent a lot of time in their own end. Shots were 12-7 Pittsburgh.

The Flames took a lead in the third period on the power play off a gorgeous individual effort by their smallest, most offensively-gifted player.

With about four minutes left the Flames got hemmed in by the Penguins. A Conor Sheary shot eluded Elliott’s glove hand by way of a Sidney Crosby tip. The goal was challenged but counted, tying the game. Shots were 11-5 Flames in the third.

It was off to overtime! Mark Giordano took a high-sticking penalty, leading to a white-knuckle penalty kill for the Flames to get to the shootout. Shots were 6-2 in overtime.

Kris Versteeg did this in the shootout to earn Calgary the extra point.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The Flames have gone as far as their goalie and the five best players (Giordano, Hamilton, Backlund, Frolik and Tkachuk) could carry them. Tonight, their five best players weren’t great, and it was their depth guys that chipped in and got them two points.

They played a better team, never really changed course despite trailing early, and managed to put themselves in a situation where the bounces could get them two points.

THE TURNING POINT

The Giordano penalty in overtime could’ve sunk the Flames entirely. They had a built-in excuse for a loss. Their penalty killers – particularly their goaltender – were excellent during that two minutes and gave the team a chance to get the second point.

RED WARRIOR

Elliott was superb, with 32 saves. He kept the Flames in this one early.

Stick-taps to the Stajan line, who were very effective.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Chiasson 73.3 16.7 1.435
Wideman 73.3 50.0 1.600
Bouma 71.4 0.0 0.585
Stajan 71.4 0.0 1.120
Brodie 61.9 21.4 0.775
Gaudreau 58.1 11.1 1.300
Monahan 56.3 12.5 0.455
Engelland 55.6 21.4 1.275
Bartkowski 55.0 50.0 0.250
Ferland 54.8 20.0 0.425
Versteeg 52.9 71.4 1.620
Brouwer 50.0 60.0 0.225
Bennett 44.4 71.4 0.705
Backlund 38.9 45.5 -0.720
Giordano 35.9 45.5 -0.725
Frolik 34.3 50.0 -0.810
Hamilton 33.3 45.5 -0.625
Tkachuk 31.4 50.0 -0.600
Elliott  1.550

THIS AND THAT

The Flames are now 7-6-1 when tied heading into the third period.

At 10 games, this is the longest Flames winning streak since the fall of 1978.

We’re still waiting on the NHL’s “official” explanation regarding the Crosby goal and the coach’s challenge. My best guess is they’ll be arguing that players are allowed to try to play the puck. Based on Crosby getting credit for the goal, their judgment was he made contact with the puck before he made contact with the glove.

QUOTABLE

“It’s an important time of year, obviously, to get and trying to push for the playoffs. To put together a streak like this at this time of year, we control our own fate down the stretch. We’re beating some good teams, we’re playing some good hockey, but we’ve still got a ways to go. We’ve got to stick with it and play with that confidence.” – Flames captain Mark Giordano on his team’s recent string of wins.

“I think that’s what you need through teams, each line stepping up on any given night especially if you’re going to string wins together. After kind of game 20, 25, I thought we started to build belief in this team that we could win on every night. We went through a good run there early on, had a little dip in January, but besides that since November we’ve been pretty rock solid as a team and giving ourselves a chance to win no matter how we feel or how we play every night.” – Flames winger Kris Versteeg on his team’s run of play.

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 a playoff spot began the night at 11.5. Calgary’s victory over Pittsburgh dropped it to 10.5 and Los Angeles’ loss to St. Louis dropped it to 9.5 Any combination of 9.5 Flames wins and Kings losses results in the Flames heading to the post-season.

UP NEXT

The Flames (39-26-4) practice tomorrow, then are back at it on Wednesday night when they host the Boston Bruins.

  • RKD

    10 wins in a row is a very impressive streak considering how tough of a league the NHL is. Brian Elliott has been one of the biggest reasons, he’s made huge saves at key moments. The play of Stone has allowed TJ Brodie to excel and offensively the Flames are getting contributions from different lines and from the back end. Way to go boys!

    • cjc

      It is certainly awesome, but this is the fourth 10+ game streak in the league this year. One of the others was from Philadelphia, who aren’t even close to the playoffs at this point. There were 3 10+ streaks last year too. The shootout makes it much easier to achieve a long winning streak.

    • Greg

      I think it shows the Pens injury problems… bottom of our roster really shone against all their fill ins.

      On the other hand, the top end was clearly outmatched. Hamilton had a couple give aways. Backlund looked very human and very not selke. No shame in any of that. Crosby is unbelievable to watch, and Malkin and Kessel as his PP wingers? You kidding me? If letang is healthy, can anyone in the league match up against that? Sick.

    • Guest

      It was a good win and we were the better team overall. I like Engellands rushes late this year. He is mostly uncovered on them so its been a good strategy by him.

      But he had a terrible first period (the goal was lucky redemption). The first goal he coasted back to the net to his man (plus his turnover led to everything), and he was lazy on Malkin on the second goal. And was giving mega space against a fast team. He was solid in the third though.

      Rematch the game if you want. It was not his best game. Will be nice when Stone gets back and he’s more third pairing minutes. And hey, Wideman. Not terrible; two straight games. His skating has some effort finally.

  • Flaymin Frank

    Bouma & Ferly took it to #4 whenever they got a chance. Welcome back to Alberta Jultzee!!

    Moneyhands has found a higher gear in his skating, he can keep up with anybody lately.

    The Wide man effect is fully back in play. Wides took a good bleeder on the chops right in front of the ref. No call. I even thought Sid’s goal was pretty dooshee. We never seem to catch a break on these calls.

    Stajan’s line was on fire tonite – they were out there on the ice to the bitter end.

    Bring on the Bruins.

    GFG

  • Lucky 13

    That was one exciting game. Good on our d men to chip in for much needed goals. Thanks Wideman for taking that high stick and playing the game through ( and scoring)

    Johnny Hockey looked possessed tonight, he was dipsy doodling all over the place and that sick wrap around was the creme -de la -creme, for me.
    I jumped up and down …like a school boy who just heard we had a snow day and there was no school… when he scored on that play.

    Versteeg must be used for shootouts.. like always 4/5 that’s
    80% success by my calculations.

    Couldn’t be more proud to be a Flames fan and also see us 3 points up on … you know who!

  • beloch

    Hab’s winning streak: 6 games, but then they played the Flames.
    Penguins winning streak: 5 games, but then they played the Flames.

    All hail the Calgary Flames, destroyer of streaks!

    • HAL MacInnis

      Bennett was trying wack that puck in as it trickled into the net and steal Wideman’s goal. He was working so hard at it, I think he almost fanned it in.

  • Atomic Clown

    I’ll be the first to say it: I chirped Elliot earlier in the season, especially after losing to the oilers (sorry, that just brings out the worst in me). But since the start of 2017, lights out. Much as I love Backlund, Elliot is the reason we’re second on the division. Happy to be wrong 🙂

    • Lucky 13

      I really liked the way Ferland gave Malkin a stick tap after he blasted the puck right into Malkins shoulder. He was honestly concerned.
      Great class by a young man!
      I can’t believe Malkin tried to block that shot either.. gotta have some appreciation for that sacrifice..

    • DoubleDIon

      I don’t hate him in a bottom pairing role with limited usage. He’s not very good though overall and at his current cap hit I hope he signs in Vegas. I’d have time for him at 1.2 for one year though.

    • DoubleDIon

      I would seriously hate to be the goalie who had to guess if he was going backhand-shelf or forehand-shelf. He doesn’t tip it off at all coming in and you almost have to guess one of them to have a chance.

  • Locker Room Talk

    The ‘dome was rocking tonight, totally had a great energy. Things were a little quiet early, but the chants and cheers were loud and proud by the end. That was a really fun game. Btw can corsi be adjusted to account for Crosby? Weird to see the corsi chart looking like that haha

  • Eggs Bennett

    I was trying to watch for Brouwer last night, but seemed like Bennett and Versteeg were a two man line everytime they were on the ice. He’s definitely coasting around or something, not in the play. Is he playing through an injury?

  • cjc

    I hate being a downer here, but the Flames can’t keep playing like this. The line between this game being a 4-3 SO win and a 5-2 blowout loss was not that wide. They’ve been bad to start like this two games running, and needed two fluky goals, strong goaltending and Pittsburgh playing 8 regulars short to get that win. They also blew a third period lead tonight.

    That said, good on Calgary for not folding completely when they were trailing, Elliot is dialed-in and that goal by Gaudreau belongs in a museum. Can’t wait to get Stone back though.

    Hard to fault the 3M line for their possession numbers tonight. That was a thankless task, and the mostly limited the damage.

    • Eggs Bennett

      They gave up a lead in the 3rd on an illegal goal. They out shot the pens by a large margin in the third otherwise. Aside from a quicker start maybe, what else would you have them do? Like you said, 3M was outplayed by PIT top line, but have you seen the depth lines step it up in relief so much as tonight? How about that clutch pk where they were staring down the barrel of a PP featuring 3 of the deadliest forwards in the NHL? Sure there’s room for improvement, but it was a pretty good effort.

    • Avalain

      Sure, they needed some fluke goals and strong goaltending to beat a team that also had fluke goals and good goaltending. And yes, Pittsburgh was playing injured, though their stars are enough to keep them in it most nights. Remember, we’re talking about the current Stanley Cup Champions here. This wasn’t the Flames eking out a win against Colorado or something. The Penguins are tied for first in the league. Do you really expect any team to walk all over them? You take a win against them any way that you can get it. The fact of the matter is that when healthy the Penguins will probably still take the Flames is a 7 game series, but the fact that the Flames can legitimately hold their own against the best on the league is huge. And the Flames are just going to get better.

  • Grayone

    Tremendous game … tension and entertainment. Good on the Flames for bouncing back because the Penguins kinda owned them in the first period.

    Do you think The Flames would have got that goal if they did what Crosby did? To me it was goalie interference all the way. Elliot makes that save easily without Crosby being in the crease and getting his stick onto the trapper. It seemed an easy call to me but I am an unadulterated homer in these matters!

    Nice to see that the Kings lost … we are getting close to the playoffs … The Bruins will be tough but if we can take on Penguins, the Bruins are beatable. As much as I appreciated Wideman’s play last night, I hope Stone can come back by the end of next week.