The Calgary Flames came into the Scottrade Center in St. Louis this evening looking for a strong finish to a fairly disappointing road trip. Having lost two in a row and facing a Western Conference wildcard contender for the second time in as many games, the Flames really needed a win to give themselves some breathing room.
The Flames were full marks in a very eventful 65 minutes of ice hockey, battling back from a third period deficit to force overtime and then clobbering the Blues for the duration of three-on-three overtime. Ultimately, it was a goal from Sean Monahan with just 2.5 seconds left in overtime that tilted the balance. The Flames beat the Blues 3-2 in a very intense hockey game.
Man, this game was awesome. If you like playoff-style, tight checking hockey, hop onto NHL GameCentre and check out the replay when it’s available.
The Blues were better than the Flames in the first period. They had more chances and arguably more dangerous chances, but Brian Elliott was very good. Troy Brouwer (of all people) scored on a power play, beating Jake Allen glove-side to make it 1-0.
A PP goal?
We forgot what those were
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) March 25, 2017
Shots were 13-9 Blues.
Things opened up in the middle of the second after a pair of penalties made things four on four; Johnny Gaudreau lost the puck on a three-on-one rush. Vladimir Tarasenko nearly bonked an airbound rebound past Brian Elliott with his chest. Matthew Tkachuk nearly scored coming out of the penalty box (and Brouwer almost got his second on the rebound). But the Flames began running around in their own end on a Blues rush, everyone got scrambley and the Blues scored. Stone blocked the initial shot with Elliott way out of position, but the rebound went right to Ivan Barbashev who made it 1-1. The Flames pressed but couldn’t get another goal. Shots were 10-6 Flames.
The Blues took the lead in the third off another wonky rebound play. The initial shot was booted out by Elliott, but it went right to a charging Jaden Schwartz who deflected the deflected puck in with his skates. It was reviewed, but judged to have no kicking motion so the goal counted and it was 2-1. But the Flames charged back and responded fairly quickly.
The Flames drew a penalty with a nice speedy zone entry (which drew a hook), and with the extra attacker on for the delayed call, Matt Bartkowski wandered into the Blues zone, collected an errant puck and beat Allen just inside the far post (off a defender’s skate) to tie things up at 2-2.
Ryan Reaves defeated expression dot gif pic.twitter.com/QThGWeJcNy
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) March 26, 2017
The game tightened up at that point, as neither team wanted to lose a free point. Shots were 11-6 Blues.
It was off to overtime. The Flames were all over the Blues but Allen was very sharp. Just when it looked like this game would go to a shootout, Monahan beat Allen between the legs with 2.5 seconds left (off a scramble out front) to win it.
So many weird goals tonight off skates tonight BUT
Monahan wins it and St. Louis stinks pic.twitter.com/9R5yUOsAjJ
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) March 26, 2017
Shots were 6-1 Flames in extra time.
WHY THE FLAMES WON
The Flames weren’t great tonight, but they were really good at taking advantage of some strong situational matchups to create momentum. Every 3M shift seemingly saw them create chances, and that often bled into the next shift for the next line.
Similarly, the Flames seemed to adjust to the Blues systems on the fly and really seemed to find ways to get to the net as the game went on. That allowed them to score to tie the game in the third, and it really allowed them to create oodles of overtime chances.
THE TURNING POINT
The Bartkowski goal came at the exact right time to give the Flames momentum (and the exact right time to take it away from the Blues). St. Louis only held a lead in this game for a couple minutes.
Elliott made 29 saves and was really good when the Flames needed him to be. Once again, he gets the nod here.
But the usual suspects – Tkachuk, Backlund, Frolik, Hamilton and Giordano – were very good and Monahan and Gaudreau each had multi-point nights. Heck, Tkachuk almost scored by trying this.
DAAAMMNNNNN Matthew pic.twitter.com/TmBu4rdioS
— AOL KEYWORD: Mike (@mikeFAIL) March 26, 2017
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Data via Natural Stat Trick.)
THIS AND THAT
That’s Monahan’s 7th career overtime winner. That sets a new franchise record. #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) March 26, 2017
Due to the Flames reaching 88 points, they’re now guaranteed to finish ahead of Winnipeg, Dallas, Vancouver, Arizona and Colorado. In other words: only Los Angeles can mathematically catch them now.
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 5. With the overtime victory, that number drops to 4 (with the Kings playing the Rangers later tonight). Any combination of 4 Flames victories or Kings defeats puts the Flames officially in the post-season.
The Flames (42-29-4) fly back home tonight. They’re off tomorrow and then host the Colorado Avalanche at the ‘Dome on Monday night.
GETAWAY WITH AMA