Legendary hockey player and cool dude Jaromir Jagr suited up for the Calgary Flames for the first time on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings. He was fine. But the Flames continued a pretty decent stretch of player, playing well in the game’s early and late stages and riding hot goaltending (and some timely scoring) to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Kings at Staples Center.
Since their opening night loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Flames have quietly rattled off three wins in a row.
The Flames were superb in the first period. They skated well. They generated scoring chances. They drew penalties by skating well. They opened the scoring on the power play. Mikael Backlund won a faceoff and the puck found its way to Matthew Tkachuk behind the Kings net. He faked out Jake Muzzin and cut to the net, jamming the puck past Jonathan Quick to make it 1-0. Calgary made it 2-0 off a gorgeous give-and-go between Johnny Gaudreau and Michael Frolik; the Kings were so transfixed by Gaudreau’s puck-handling that Frolik was left all alone for a tap-in.
Johnny Hockey with that sweet, sweet setup. 👌 pic.twitter.com/Ktz9RuKjbg
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 12, 2017
Shots were 15-13 Kings, but scoring chances were 9-6 Flames.
The Flames did some good things and some bad things in the second. They created three power plays by not being silly. On the other hand, they generated basically nothing with the man advantage and ended up giving the Kings some much-needed momentum. Near the end of the period the Kings got on the board; Anze Kopitar’s line was left on the ice against the third defensive pairing and the fourth line. Dustin Brown battled with Matt Bartkowski out front of Mike Smith, creating a gigantic screen and so Kopitar’s shot went through them (and Smith) and made it 2-1. Shots were 10-10 and scoring chances were 12-6 Kings.
Things looked bad in the third period early-on, primarily because the Flames weren’t playing particularly well and the Kings did their best to make sure they got bodies and deflections in front of Smith. Brown tipped in the game-tying goal 14 seconds into the period (on the remaining power play time leftover from a Smith penalty) to make it 2-2. Shortly after, the Kings took a 3-2 lead with another Brown tip-in goal. Just when it looked dire, Tkachuk scored his second of the night off a nice passing sequence also involving Frolik and Dougie Hamilton, beating Quick with a wrister to make it 3-3. There were a bunch of scrums in the final minutes of the third, but things stayed tied so we went to overtime! Shots were 20-13 Kings, scoring chances were 13-4 Kings.
In their first rush into the Kings zone, the Flames capitalized roughly a minute into overtime. Sean Monahan began and finished off a nice passing sequence (also involving T.J. Brodie and Johnny Gaudreau), tapping in a Brodie pass at the top of the crease to make it 4-3 and end this game. Shots were 1-0 Flames.
Why The Flames Won
The Flames were good early and they were good late. In-between, when they are definitively not good, Smith was good enough to keep them in it.
With two goals on his mom’s birthday – along with some scraps with the Kings players throughout this game – let’s go with nice young man Matthew Tkachuk.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 12, 2017
What a nice young man.
Also, Smith was very good, again, making 42 saves.
The Turning Point
Tkachuk’s game-tying goal in the third swung things, coming at a point where the Flames had generated almost literally nothing for the better part of two periods at even strength.
On what seemed like CGY's first rush chance this period, Hamilton gains zone, drops to Tkachuk, who beats Quick near post from right circle.
— Jon Rosen (@lakingsinsider) October 12, 2017
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
Nick Schneider made 30 saves in the Hitmen’s 4-2 win over the lowly Kamloops Blazers (the WHL’s lone winless team). Matthew Phillips had a sleepy night for the Victoria Royals, scoring just once in their 5-4 overtime loss to Tri-City. Juuso Valimaki sat out for Tri-City with an illness.
How’d Jagr Do?
He was good, but not great. His line managed the puck well and cycled well, but didn’t generate a ton of chances. Jagr himself played 13:38 with a missed shot, a shot that was blocked and a minus-1 rating.
The Flames (3-1-0) head home tonight. They host the Ottawa Senators on Friday night in the first game of a back-to-back stretch that’ll finish off on Saturday in Vancouver against the Canucks.