The Calgary Flames continued their lengthy six-game road trip today in Philadelphia. They had a matinee against the Flyers, scheduled as such because the National Basketball Association needed the building for their traveling dribbling-and-dunking road show in the evening. Despite a slow start, the Flames managed to find their stride and overcome some self-imposed obstacles in a game played during the brunching hour.
Despite never actually holding a lead at any point during the game, the Flames triumphed in overtime by a 5-4 score over the Flyers.
The first period was brought to you by silly penalties, bad puck management and unintentional screens on the Flames’ own goaltender. 90 seconds into the game, Sam Bennett’s attempted no-look pass in the defensive zone was nabbed by the Flyers, leading to a Brandon Manning point shot hitting Mike Smith through traffic and trickling over him and into the net to make it 1-0 for the home side. A little while later, though, Johnny Gaudreau continued his point streak with a gorgeous pass from Micheal Ferland to spring him on a breakaway – he beat Brian Elliott with a deke to make it 1-1.
But after an off-sides call, Kris Versteeg took a silly penalty for shoving Taylor Leier from behind. The ensuing Flyers power play sliced and diced the Flames’ passive penalty kill up with precise passing, ending with Sean Couturier tapping in a rebound out front to make it 2-1 Flyers. It became 3-1 Flyers later in the period, as a face-off loss led to an Ivan Provorov point shot that beat Smith by virtue of a double-screen from Dougie Hamilton and Jori Lehtera – you can’t stop what you can’t see. Shots were 13-12 Flames and scoring chances were 9-3 Flames.
If you like goals, the second period was your jam as the Flames power play came alive. On their first man advantage, Sean Monahan carried the puck in, passed it off and headed to the net. He deflected a Kris Versteeg point shot to make it 3-2. On their next power play, the Flames tied things up after Gaudreau’s shot was blocked by a sprawling Elliott, allowing Monahan to wander in and pick up the scraps to make it 3-3.
The Flyers regained the lead after a flat Flames power play. With the tired power play unit still on the ice, the Flyers had pressure and multiple strong chances. Smith made a couple nice saves in close, but Nolan Patrick tapped in a rebound to make it 4-3 Flyers. But that lead didn’t last long. On their umpteeth (fourth) power play of the period, Leier blocked a Gaudreau shot in his mid-section and went down. Gaudreau collected the puck and fed Monahan in the slot for a wrister that beat Elliott and made it 4-4. Shots were 16-12 Flyers and scoring chances were 10-5 Flyers.
Neither team scoring in the third period, though the Flames saw Mark Jankowski and Bennett hit posts. The Flames survived a late Flyers power play to make it to overtime. Shots were 11-5 Flyers and scoring chances were 6-3 Flyers.
In overtime, the Flames cashed in once again. Micheal Frolik and Mikael Backlund combined for a really nice give-and-go sequence. Frolik buried a one-timer set-up from Backlund in the slot to cement a 5-4 victory. Shots were 1-0 Flames in OT.
Why The Flames Won
On this occasion, Calgary’s best players were better than Philadelphia’s. They got three power play goals from Scorin’ Sean Monahan and even strength goals from their first and second lines. Smith was shaky early on but was very good as the game wore on, making 35 saves overall. The Flames’ top guns kept pushing for the last 40 minutes of the game, while the Flyers seemed to wilt as the game wore on despite getting a ton of shots and chances against Calgary’s lesser lights.
First career hat trick and a four-point game? Give it to Monahan. But stick-taps to Ferland and Gaudreau, who have been part of an extremely dangerous and productive top line lately.
The Turning Point
There’s two, really. The first was Monahan’s hat-trick goal to re-tie the game and (eventually) lead to overtime. But the Flames’ penalty kill came up big after T.J. Brodie took a minor with 2:01 left in regulation and the game tied. They got the kill they needed at the right time, and it gave them some momentum heading into overtime.
Their PK still isn’t good, but it was enough on this occasion.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
The Flames (11-8-0) hop on a train to Washington, D.C. today. They play the Capitals on Monday night.