The Calgary Flames lost three of four games on their recent homestand. They were often flat, listless, disorganized and generally not good. They began a quick two-game road trip on Wednesday night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. While they weren’t perfect, they were often the better hockey club on the ice. The Flames carried played for the balance of the game but couldn’t get enough pucks past Freddie Andersen en route to a 2-1 shootout loss to the Leafs.
They deserved better, but they’ll definitely savour this point.
This game didn’t have a ton of showy goals, but it was a nice 65 minutes of back-and-forth play. The Flames were at times tossed around by the Leafs in Calgary, but they were full marks tonight for playing with a very good Toronto hockey club.
After Garnet Hathaway drew a penalty driving the net in the fist period, Mark Giordano scored on the power play with Troy Brouwer screening Freddie Andersen to make it 1-0. Shots were 14-12 Flames and scoring chances were 16-9 Toronto.
The Flames had a few chances to make the game 2-0 in the second, but Andersen was rock-solid. Just just over a minute left in the second, a Giordano clearing attempt was snatched by Morgan Rielly on the side boards and his shot through traffic beat Mike Smith to make it 1-1. Shots in the second were 12-9 Flames, while scoring chances were 10-6 Toronto.
Neither team scored in the third, though both had some nice chances. It seemed like Sean Monahan may have taken a lead, but Andersen had nudged the net off the moorings prior to the puck going in. Shots were 17-7 Flames and scoring chances were even at 9-9.
It was off to overtime! The Flames led in shots 5-1 but Andersen was solid. Johnny Gaudreau took a late-period penalty, but the Flames killed it off. In the shootout Auston Matthews and William Nylander scored for the Leafs, while Matthew Tkachuk scored for Calgary. Thus, the game ended by a 2-1 score for the home side.
Why The Flames Lost
Like they did against Philadelphia, the Flames carried play and generated a ton of shots on net. But like they did against Philadelphia, they found it tough to open up the middle of the offensive zone and generate grade-A chances. According to Natural Stat Trick, scoring chances were 30-22 for Toronto and high-danger chances were 10-8 for the Flames. If you’re going to win games, you need to convert that zone time and shots into more great chances.
That said, it’s a step in the right direction and they had a ton of chances to win the game in the third period and overtime. This was not a group that was merely content to get to overtime.
He didn’t hit the scoresheet, but Johnny Gaudreau was all over the ice. He led all Flames forwards in ice time and led the team outright in (all situations) scoring chances and high-danger chances.
The Turning Point
It looked like the Flames were going to hit the second intermission with the lead, but Rielly’s goal late in the period sent them into the third tied. If the Flames lead after 40 minutes, they probably win this game in regulation – at least, based on their history of not coughing up leads in that situation.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
In the first period, Matthew Tkachuk appeared to jab Matt Martin with his stick from the bench.
Sorry, my original tweet was looking at the wrong part of the sequence. Matthew Tkachuk definitely spears Matt Martin from the bench during that scrum. pic.twitter.com/LQOMtvjHbR
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 7, 2017
Though there were no penalties on this exchange, remember: all plays are reviewable (and all plays are reviewed) by both the NHL’s Player Safety and Hockey Operations departments. I would expect this to be heavily scrutinized because of Tkachuk’s recent history of shenanigans.
The Flames (14-12-2) head into Quebec tonight. They play the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre tomorrow night.