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Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: King Slayers

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 Rundown

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.

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.

Red Warrior

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.

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.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Versteeg 59.1 71.4 0.305
Bennett 53.9 71.4 0.260
Hamilton 48.3 25.0 0.875
Hamonic 44.4 66.7 0.175
Stajan 43.8 42.9 -0.215
Frolik 43.8 10.0 1.665
Jagr 43.5 71.4 -0.300
Tkachuk 42.9 10.0 2.100
Brodie 42.9 66.7 0.750
Bartkowski 42.3 60.0 0.000
Giordano 40.0 23.1 0.675
Glass 38.9 50.0 0.050
Monahan 37.0 83.3 1.050
Ferland 36.8 83.3 -0.410
Backlund 36.4 10.0 0.310
Brouwer 35.3 42.9 -0.355
Gaudreau 33.3 71.4 1.175
Stone 33.3 50.0 -0.325
Smith 1.800
Lack n/a

Elsewhere

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.

Up Next

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.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    So what happens on Saturday night when Eddie the Lack starts? 40+ shots against the Canucks could easily spell a 5-1 defeat as Bobo Horvat is the real deal.

  • JohnyR

    So the Leafs loose and get front page on TSN, while the Flames win in Jagr’s first game and it’s an afterthought. Not even a highlight of Frolik’s goal and that pass from Jonny.

  • everton fc

    Smith has to be the best goalie in the league, as I type. And we are getting scoring from multiple sources.

    Still…

    We need to reduce the shots on goal, regardless of the rules change that identifies these. We need a few guys like Ferland and Versteeg to get some offence going. Not sure what will happen w/Jagr. Bennett was great w/Gaudreau, so I think his issues are his linemates. Ferland-Bennett-Jagr might work. Slot Lazar on the right side of Gaudreau and Monahan. Slide Versteeg down w/Stajan and Brouwer… Just thinking out loud here.

    Swap Kulak w/Bartkowski on the second half of the back-to-back, and I bet he shines. Would love to have seen Matthew Phillips in Stockton this year.

  • Burnward

    That first Kings goal is another reason overpaid vets on the fourth line are an issue. GG probably felt like he owed them that shift after a short one pre-commercial break. Came back to bite him in the ace and almost tilted the game.

    Glad it all worked out but if those were kids, they would have been back on the bench and a more talented line out there.

    Weird balance to pull as this young team matures, but the succession is there and the future looks so good.

    Go Flames Go!

  • Raffydog

    looks like I owe everybody an apology, I thought this season was going to be a disaster, but I couldn’t be happier to have been proven wrong. Smith looks good, Hamonic looks good, and as much as it pains me to say, even Guadreau looks amazing so far.

    • Skylardog

      Don’t get to apologetic yet. 40 shots plus a game is not where this team needs to be. Could easily be 1-3 or even 0-4 without Smith standing on his head. My 3-9-1 projection had the Flames at 2-2 at this point. Had them beating Winnipeg and LA, just a winagainst a banged up Anaheim team where Smith stopped 40+ is the only difference. Preseason I had them losing Friday to Ottawa, and beating Vancouver to start 3-3, then losing 7 in a row. With Ottawa having Karllson out, should win that game but Vancouver is no longer a given. They need to get their defense in order or this will catch up with them.

      It is interesting, the metrics of Calgary going 3-1 are not good, but the Montreal has good numbers and are 1-3. Smith right now is the difference. Hope it stays that way until the Flames defensive play shows up.

  • Baalzamon

    Something occurred to me this morning and I was curious what the rest of you would think.

    Gaudreau – Backlund – Frolik
    Tkachuk – Monahan – Versteeg
    Ferland – Bennett – Jagr
    Stajan – Jankowski – Lazar (obviously projecting certain hopes here)

    That’s a lot of accepted combinations being broken up all at once, but I could see the above being a nightmare to match against.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Weren’t we all celebrating Johnny, Sam and Curtis being together only a few days ago?

      Gaudreau’s constantly improvising would drive those two disciplined systems freaks nuts. Even if it did work, it would fail because Backs would likely have a career year and demand $6M+ a year and believe me, some GM would indulge him.

    • The Fall

      if you are to break up the 3M, (big IF), the player to move is Frolik. But him with Johnny and Sean. Ferland is a bit out matched on the top line most nights.

      • Carl the tooth

        Ferlund Scored than goal but hasn’t done much . If Lazar faulters then I would switch him and Jagr on the second/third line . Brouwer wasn’t horrible last game so hopefully he can build on that. Same with Bartowski.

    • oilersuck

      Backlund is the most useful taking hard match ups and D-zone starts. Johnny is most useful getting O-zone starts and exploiting matchups to score.
      This is a bad idea.

  • Nighteyes

    Is it just me or is Brodie having a renaissance? He seems very much back to his old self after a kind of hiccup season last year, the guy is dominating out there and leading all the Flames D in ice-time.