The St. Louis Blues entered tonight’s game in Calgary as the best team, standings-wise, in the Western Conference. Losers of just four games in regulation, the team was reportedly extremely upset at how they were playing after suffering a loss against the New York Islanders. The Calgary Flames faced off against a really good, motivated Blues team at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night. They played arguably their best home game of this young season, surviving some ebbs, flows and a potential injury to goaltender Mike Smith en route to a 7-4 win.
The victory gives the Flames five wins over their lengthy seven game homestand.
The opening period was full of chances in both directions. The Blues opened the scoring at four-on-four, as Vladimir Tarasenko uncorked a wrist shot from the side boards that beat a partially-screened Mike Smith to make it 1-0. The Flames battled back, though, as Mark Jankowski jumped on a loose puck in the high slot and hammered a slap shot past Jake Allen to make it 1-1.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) November 14, 2017
The Flames briefly took the lead on a nice sequence from Jankowski’s line. They had an initial chance miss the Blues net, but Sam Bennett’s back-checking held the puck in the zone, allowing Jaromir Jagr to find Jankowski near the slot. Jankowski deked around a sprawling Allen and tucked it past him to make it 2-1.
Somewhere Jay Feaster is smiling pic.twitter.com/Jzdb4KtL2s
— Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL) November 14, 2017
But that lead wouldn’t last as roughly two and a half minutes later, with T.J. Brodie in the penalty box, the Blues responded after a weird sequence. Alexander Steen’s stick exploded on an attempted shot. All the Flames followed the shrapnel, but the puck bounced to Jaden Schwartz for a wrist shot goal to make it 2-2. Shots were 12-7 Flames, but scoring chances were 9-9.
The Flames seemed to find their legs in the second period, even with Smith being replaced by Eddie Lack in net. Three of the Flames’ four forward lines generated chances and significant zone time, but they just couldn’t score. Shots were 8-4 Flames, while scoring chances were 11-4 Flames.
The floodgates opened offensively, for both teams, in the third period.
- The Flames made it 3-2 six minutes in: Jankowski’s initial shot was stopped by Allen, but Sam Bennett picked up the scraps while crashing the net for his first goal in 100,000 years.
- The Blues tied it up at 3-3 after a pretty blah Flames power play. Alexander Steen’s shot careened off Micheal Ferland and past Lack, drawing some jeers from the crowd.
- After Oscar Sundqvist got the extra minor after a scrum triggered by him crashing into Lack, Ferland jammed home a rebound from a Johnny Gaudreau initial chance to make it 4-3.
- But that lead lasted all of 12 seconds, as Tarasenko got his second of the game off a beautiful pass from Schwartz from beside the net. That made it 4-4.
- The fourth line supplied the game-winning goal, as Kris Versteeg buried a Troy Brouwer feed off a rush to make it 5-4.
- Gaudreau and Sean Monahan went in on a two-on-one but Gaudreau couldn’t get a shot away. Mark Giordano corralled the puck and whiffed on a shot attempt of his own, but the puck bobbled over to Gaudreau for a wrister and a 6-4 lead.
- Michael Frolik added an empty-netter to make it 7-4.
Shots were 17-11 Flames, while scoring chances were 9-5 Blues.
Why The Flames Won
The Flames didn’t get what they needed from their penalty kill, but arguably every other part of their game contributed something positive tonight. They got goals from basically their entire lineup, a power play goal, and a decent enough performance from their backup goaltender in relief.
And let’s be honest here, the game was ugly at times, but the Flames played a smart enough game that they put themselves in a situation where they just needed to win the third period to beat the best team in the Western Conference. The game was theirs for the taking, and they managed to take it.
Let’s go with the most maligned selection in the 2012 NHL Draft, Mark Jankowski. He was first start, led the Flames in goals, points and was tied for the lead in shots. He was buzzing tonight, and his offense gave the rest of the team a bit of time to find their legs.
The Turning Point
Gaudreau’s insurance marker ended a segment of the third period where the teams exchanged goals willy-nilly, and extinguished any fears from the stands (or the press box) that the Blues would be able to tie this game up yet again.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
“I just thought that Hammer, Hammer’s had one practice and was off for a week. One practice, and then he gets smoked into the goalie early. So we just switched him and Stoney just because we wanted to take a bit of heat off him. I could tell that he wasn’t… and it’s probably my fault, he’s probably not completely game-ready after one practice, but it’s hard to keep that guy out of the lineup because he’s so competitive and he wants in there. We made that switch, but that’s was an in-game adjustment. That won’t be anything long-term.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his defensive pairing adjustment, swapping Michael Stone and Travis Hamonic.
“I think that every game I feel a lot more comfortable and with my two linemates now, we’ve had a few games together and we’ve been clicking really well. Every shift, we’re getting chances and stuff. So I felt like we continued that.” – Flames forward Mark Jankowski on his comfort level these days.
The Flames (10-7-0) hit the road tomorrow, flying off to scenic Detroit, Michigan. They’ll play the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday evening.