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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Goals galore lead Flames over Wings

The Calgary Flames have had trouble scoring this year. But at least for one night, they found the fountain of goals. The Flames erupted for six goals for the second time this season – all of them at even strength – and played good enough defense that they were able to hang on for a 6-3 victory over the well-rested Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night at the Saddledome.

The game featured five different goal-scorers – four of them past Flames draft selections – as well as a first NHL goal and the first goal as a Flame for a living hockey legend.

The Rundown

If you like “old time hockey” – and by that I mean two teams scoring goals and not playing a ton of defense – tonight’s game was for you!

The Flames were sharp in the first. They were skating. They were back-checking. They were getting into lanes and making things happen. And Mark Jankowski got onto the scoresheet for the first time in his decorated NHL career off a simple play: he went to the net. Jaromir Jagr’s initial shot rebounded off Petr Mrazek and Jankowski, driving the net, had it go into the yawning cage off of his pants to make it 1-0 for the home side.

The Flames made it 2-0 off another simple play. Sean Monahan won a face-off and drew the puck to Johnny Gaudreau in the slot. Micheal Ferland drove the net for a screen. Gaudreau’s wrister was in the back of the net before Mrazek had a chance to register that a shot had been taken. Shots were 15-10 Flames, while scoring chances were 14-6.

The middle frame was a bit more wide open, in that the Flames were enjoying a lead and played a little bit loose defensively. It led to a period of many goals. The first one was Calgary’s: Mikael Backlund held the puck in on an attempted Detroit clear, then fed Ferland for a nice deke and tuck behind Mrazek to make it 3-0.

Detroit made it 3-1 off a power play goal (with Sam Bennett in the box). The penalty kill pressured the point, so they fed the puck to Anthony Mantha (who was screening Mike Smith out front), and he shuffled the puck over to Martin Frk for a no-doubt one-timer. But the Flames answered back just over three minutes later. Backlund stole the puck in Detroit’s zone and chucked the puck to the point to Brett Kulak. Kulak’s point shot was redirected by Matthew Tkachuk to make it 4-1. The Red Wings challenged on the basis of goalie interference, but the goal stood.

But the Red Wings answered back! After a successful penalty kill, the Flames had four tired players on the ice (and Mark Giordano, who had come out of the penalty box). Anthony Mantha fed a gorgeous pass to an unchecked Frans Nielsen for a redirection past Smith to make it 4-2. Literally every player in red seemed surprised that the pass went through. Calgary reacted well, though, as roughly 80 seconds later Gaudreau and Jagr went in on a two-on-one against Jonathan Ericsson and Gaudreau fed Jagr for a tap-in to make it 5-2.

But Detroit answered back – which was a theme in the second – as a shot from Ericsson was booted out to the slot by Smith, allowing Mantha to wrist it through traffic and into the open net to make it 5-3. Shots were 18-7 Detroit but scoring chances were 13-11 Flames.

The third period was a bit more locked down. The Flames seemed content to burn off the clock, though Jagr’s line had a few good chances, too. Gaudreau added his second of the game into an empty net to make it 6-3 and ice this one. Shots 11-8 Red Wings and chances were 12-7 Red Wings – but remember, score effects.

Why The Flames Won

The Flames were a lot better than Detroit at even strength, out-scoring them 6-2 at five-on-five. When your team’s got three lines rolling along that can score, it makes life a lot easier – even if your special teams units don’t quite play up to snuff.

Red Warrior

Gaudreau had three points and had his working boots on. He was dangling around players all night long and probably should’ve had more than two goals.

Stick-taps also to Jagr, who was perpetually dangerous.

The Turning Point

Honestly? The first goal set Detroit back on their heels, and they never really seemed engaged in the game until they were down by three early in the second period.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Versteeg 66.7 50.0 0.230
Tkachuk 57.1 18.2 1.600
Backlund 57.1 18.2 1.920
Lazar 56.3 60.0 0.205
Kulak 54.8 71.4 1.750
Andersson 54.8 71.4 0.500
Hamilton 52.5 50.0 0.225
Ferland 50.0 66.7 1.450
Giordano 48.8 50.0 -0.150
Gaudreau 48.5 63.6 2.900
Brouwer 46.2 50.0 -0.040
Monahan 45.7 63.6 1.350
Frolik 43.8 25.0 0.000
Jagr 40.0 100 1.400
Brodie 38.6 40.0 -0.200
Stone 37.8 40.0 0.100
Bennett 36.7 100 0.375
Jankowski 35.5 100 0.605
Smith 1.650
Lack n/a

This and That

T.J. Brodie grabbed the puck after Jankowski’s first NHL goal. Gaudreau grabbed the puck after Jagr’s first Flames goal.

Quotable

“I didn’t like the way we played with the lead, really. At the end of the second there, giving up chances and goals at the end with two minutes left, we’ve got to nail that down. What I did like, from an offensive standpoint, is when you get guys…we’ve got a lot of guys that got on the board tonight, and that helps.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan assessing his team’s performance.

“I thought Brett Kulak had a great skating game. I thought he made some good plays, held the line, big goal with Chucky there. I thought Ras looked poised with the puck. Didn’t have any panic in his game. For sure a learning curve for him will be the gap that maybe he gave up a little bit in his play, which he’s got a get a little tighter there, trust his feet. But real calm and poised with the puck. Never seemed to be… And that’s a strength of his, and we know that, just his puck play. I thought he was real good in that area.” – Gulutzan on his third pairing’s performance.

Jagr had a ton of praise for Gaudreau after the game.

I told him, he’s got such a great talent, so it’s up to him how he’s gonna take it. With his talent, he can win the scoring [race] every year. It’s just up to him. You know, he’s so quick, he’s so good one on one, he always keeps skating so.. You know, it’s tough to shut him down one on one. When he’s skating like this, it’s almost impossible. And if you double-team him, he always finds somebody open so it’s just up to him.

The crowning moment of my journalistic career:

  • Me: “Where did it hit you on the way in?”
  • Jankowski: ” It hit me on the pants.”
  • Me: “Any particular part of the pants?”
  • Jankowski points to his right thigh.

Up Next

The Flames (9-7-0) practice tomorrow and begin preparation for the final game of their homestand when they host the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.

  • BendingCorners

    Old-time hockey? No. Head-butting, spearing, bench-clearing brawls. That was old-time hockey.
    Tonight was fire-wagon hockey. Fun and exasperating in equal parts.

  • aye

    JG had a great game, but after the Flames game I switched over and watched the TBL absolutely demolish the Kings, Kucherov another 2G 1A game, and Stamkos 1G 1A, that team is scary good. I’ll take that duo over McDavid Draisaitl combo any day.
    As great a value we are getting on JG’s contract, Kucherov at 4.77m is absolute robbery by Yzerman.

    • The Sultan

      Didn’t think Yzerman would be able to keep Tampa’s core together. Thought for sure Stamkos was going to try for Toronto.

      I said it before earlier in the season, but as potentially good as this Flames team can be, I’d probably have a heart attack watching Tampa/Calgary go 7 games.

      • aye

        At this stage I’d definitely give the edge to the Lightning, their forward group is better (until our 3rd line really start to play up to their potential, and the 4th line gets a makeover), I’m not even sure our D is better now that they’ve added Sergachev. Let’s just mark Feb. 1 down on the calendar and worry about the rest later.

      • OYYC

        Made a couple of futures bets before the season for the first time in years. Tampa at 6-1 to win the East, and Calgary at 14-1 to win the West. Wanted to avoid that potential matchup problem. I like where I’m sitting right now anyway.

    • OYYC

      This won’t make you feel any better. Kucherov went 58th overall that year. At pick 57, the Calgary Flames selected Tyler Wotherspoon. Oh, what could have been. But that Gaudreau fella selected in the 4th round might turn out to be okay.

        • OYYC

          The Flames didn’t have a 3rd rounder that year, and I read that there were big groans at the Flames’ table when Kucherov was taken. He was definitely on their radar.

          • Baalzamon

            He was on everyone’s radar most likely. There’s always a chess match with top Russian skaters. You wait to take them… but for how long?

            Actually, that’s sort of the way the Flames got Gaudreau. They waited just long enough. Not a bad consolation prize.

          • McRib

            Feaster was quoted saying after that draft that they considered taking Kucherov for a long period (I think our ownership was really against taking Russians at that point), instead of Wotherspoon. Feasters former and current team TB took Kucherov after-all. I never really liked Wotherspoon to be honest, so this is always a kick in the pants for me, as Wotherspoon never had a ton of offensive upside. The craziest thing is if we took Kucherov we would have eneded up with the two best players in that draft with picks 57 and 104.

            One final thing worth mentioning though is if we did draft Kucherov we likely are a better team in 2016 and don’t get Tkachuk.

          • McRib

            Kucherov was weird where he actually wasn’t very good in the QMJHL that year (a lot of scouts felt he was super inconsistent and soft), but he tore it up in the spring U18s leading the tournament in scoring.

            You always have to wonder as well from a player development standpoint, if he would have became the same player in a different situation to TB, as he learned the one-timer from Stamkos.

          • OYYC

            All good points for sure, and I heard the Flames brass were very nervous waiting while waiting to pick Gaudreau.

            I mentioned in another article that scouts don’t give enough weight to the fact that a kid uproots from family, moves across the world, and likely can’t even speak the language of the country he’s going to. Anyone in that situation should get a pass on the lack of consistency angle.

  • Arminius

    Somewhere I hope Jay Feaster is drunk as me smiling over that Janko goal. Flames will be a force to be reckoned with. Roster moves are looking better by the week

  • Lucky 13

    I haven’t commented in a while, but I must say that was one fun game to watch.

    Jankowski, scoring his first goal, Bennett gets an assist, Jagr gets his first goal as a Flame.
    Johnny is on fire, Jagr has been a great mentor for him. ( talking with him about his ability to dominate games)
    Tkachuk and Ferland just keep on delivering like Fedex.

    And to cap it off Brouwer dropped the gloves! He is a tough guy after all..

    I know the game was as messy as a sloppy Joe at times, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    More please.

  • Captain Ron

    I’m super impressed with Kulak the last couple of games. Looks to me like he can be a future 3-4 D man if this is any indication of what he is capable of. Excellent skater and great poise with the puck. I watched a couple of Vancouver Giants games when he was there and remember him being the best player on the ice. Led the team in scoring too if I recall correctly.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    What if this is a watershed moment for our season? I saw a team that had a stew goin’, baby, and as I watched Jagr in the offensive zone (where every time he touched the puck our fans turned into Habs fans who “ooohhh” and “ahhh” at every little thing 😀 😀 😀 ) a hashtag occurred to me:

    #1MoreYear

    Well done, and coach-esque shoulder taps to Janko and Benny!!! Well done!!!

    GFG!!!

  • Craftmatic4.0

    I was not sold on Ferland being a fixture on the top line with consistency, despite all the FN articles pushing for it. I am starting to come around and now have flashbacks of Bob Hartley saying “I have big plans for Micheal Ferland” ~Craftmatic4.0~

    • Cfan in Van

      I honestly think that Ferland is under different orders with GG behind the bench. He’s still a tough player, but I think he’s being instructed to emphasize reading plays and using his hockey sense over “engaging wrecking-ball mode”. I love “wrecking-ball Ferland”, but he’s way more valuable as a 1st line power forward.

    • SydScout

      I’ve no idea either. At a gig in Sydney tonight with two Canadians – we agreed it’s basically hockey first, daylight second then cricket/rugby/etc third. And I mean real hockey not field. Btw the gig was the Tea Party…a fine Canadian band.

    • OYYC

      The cost is the major factor. All you need to play soccer is something resembling a ball and 2 rocks for each goalpost.
      Playoff hockey is number one for me, followed by two evenly matched rugby union teams.

  • freethe flames

    If the Ras/Kulak duo continues to build from this game this team will have a difficult decision to make; not who goes down(that should be easy Bart) but rather how do you deal with 4 rhd that can all play. In all likelyhood I could see Ras being sent back down because there is just not enough ice time for 4rhd and GG will default to the veterans.

      • OYYC

        Toned Ras will get sent down. You can never have enough solid defencemen in case of injuries, and the playoffs are 2 months long. Andersson just turned 21, but he could make the team by the looks of it. Gio has 4 years left on his contract after this year as well. He can’t keep playing at this level, and he’ll eventually slide down the depth chart. I can’t see the team ever trading their captain.

  • WillyWonka

    Flames are seriously deep on defense… it’s ridiculous!

    when Hamonic is back – who goes? I’d have no problem keeping Rass and Kulak together, which leaves stone as the odd man out. But Stone is looking like a genuine 2nd pairing stud, plus his shot is a beauty! what would Edmonton give for a defender with a point shot like Stone’s?

    • freethe flames

      Are you suggesting we trade Stone to Edmonton? I doubt BT would do that; I suspect he would trade him outside the conference if he could. Or are you commenting on the plight of the Oiler’s D? Yes it is good to have 4 solid rhd but if you look down on the farm there are no other RHD who are even close. 2 lhd in Kylington and Tspoon who could be called up if needed. So I suspect BT holds onto all 4 unless he is made an offer that he can’t refuse.

      Nice to finally see the 3rd line score but it still needs to keep producing; hopefully this begins to lift the doom and gloom that has followed this line. No parade planning yet; still lots of work to be done.

      • everton fc

        He won’t trade Stone. Andersson will be the one sent down. And Wotherspoon needs the ice time. Bartkowski in the press box here, gives the kids in Stockton more ice time. Bartkowski can’t hurt us, in the press box.

        Stone was signed to term because BT believes in him. Now, without Bartkowski the millstone bringing him down (though, honestly, Stone’s had his shaky moments) everyone wants to trade him. Interesting.

        The best thing we can do is stay as “status quo”. The only move I could see them maybe entertaining is Bennett. But, if they keep Bennett-Jankowski-Jagr together… That line will eventually produce.

        The move they should desperately try to make is Brouwer. Perhaps all this defencive depth will help free-up some cap space for Backlund, others, down the immediate road… If we can somehow punt Brouwer’s horrific contract. Worst thing BT’s done here. Smith is his reprieve.

        As for the game… Ferland will get 20. He’s great w/the puck, rushing the goal. A monster. Tkachuk’s another great young player. Kulak is settling in – can’t see him in the press box again. He’s made the transition. Gaudreau may want to be in Philly, but he’s playing well here – now we can see how much missing camp hurt him last season. We still give up way too many shots. Any thoughts on this? Is our defence that good?? Are our forwards not getting it done, defencively??? Is it all on the PP???? What gives?????

  • KeepitReal

    For sure that was fire wagon hockey. Why was I still very nervous even with a 3 goal lead. The Dread Wings showed that they are still a team to be taken seriously. Tons of speed. Just a player or two from regaining dominance in their game. I’m hoping the dam has finally broke and Bennett, Jagr, and Janko start pouring in the points.

  • Carl the tooth

    Ahhhhhhhhh what a beautiful mourning….birds are chirping,the sun is shiiiiinnning briiighhtt!
    Here!! Comes!! The !! Train !!! Boooooooooom!!! Lovin it . Brouwer fighting ,Johnny 3rd in NHL scoring !! Jankowski and Jagr first Goals !! Bennett back on the Train ! GG must have given them all beers 🍻 lol Molson most likely. Oh and Flames are only 2 points from like 4 rth in NHL and there just getting started . Awesommme!!

    • everton fc

      Once that third line gets going… And now that Kulak is the f/t #6 d-man…

      All we need is to test Lack a few times to see if he can cut it as our #2. If not, off to Stockton, with Rittich coming back the other way. I really hope we get to see Rittich up here, at some point. But not because of an injury…

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Great to see Janko score by going top shelf (that is how it will be remembered), even better that it was assisted by a HOFer. Janko has endured more than the average player so it is nice to see him reap the rewards.

    You can tell he has more to give, he might be the magic elixir for the PP and PK. You can tell that he is going to have a hard time keeping weight on during the long NHL regular season.

    After watching Bennett on the bench, I figure he needs to spend a weekend in Vegas with Mr. Happy – Lazar. It is ok to take the game serious just can’t take himself too serious.