Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Flames stick with it, beat Vancouver

The Calgary Flames allowed the first goal on Saturday night, something that’s happened 17 times this season. Sometimes allowing the first goal discombobulates the team and sometimes it sparks them. They also had a close penalty sequence break against them and result in a power play goal against, something that also often deflates them.

But playing a big home game on Hockey Night in Canada against a divisional rival that they entered the night tied with in the Pacific Division standings, the Flames instead pushed back. Despite trailing on a few occasions, the Flames kept with it and managed to beat the Vancouver Canucks by a 4-2 score.

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The Rundown

Continuing a recent tradition of poor starts, the Flames went down early at home. Just two minutes in, the fourth line got bunched up at their own blueline trying to halt a Michael del Zotto shot. The shot got through and Mike Smith made the initial save, but the rebound went right to Jake Virtanen for an easy goal over top of Smith to make it 1-0. The Flames had a couple power plays in the first, but they were awful – the Canucks had more scoring chances on the Flames’ PPs than the Flames did. Calgary tied it up late in the period, though, as Curtis Lazar snatched a loose puck inside his own zone and broke out on a two-on-one rush with Troy Brouwer. Brouwer buried the one-time feed to make it 1-1.

Shots were 16-12 Flames and scoring chances were 10-7 Flames.

The middle frame was a bit sloppy and sleepy, as both teams exchanged rushes here and there but neither really generated high-quality scoring chances. Late in the period, the Canucks got a break as Mark Giordano deftly out-deked Brock Boeser inside Vancouver’s blueline but the duo got tangled up, Giordano got hauled down, and the Flames captain ended up with a minor for holding the stick. Nobody in red was happy, and they were less happy when Boeser scored on a nice give-and-go sequence with Markus Granlund to put Vancouver up 2-1. Shots were 8-7 Flames and scoring chances were 6-3 Flames.

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The locals entered the third period down a goal. They seemed to sit back for the first six or seven minutes of the period, but then they started to press – it was as if they wanted to see what the Canucks would do with their lead. The Flames had a bunch of nice scoring chances, but couldn’t solve Nilsson. Well, until they finally did midway through the third. After an aborted rush into the Canucks zone, the puck bounced into the corner. Garnet Hathaway chased it down, chucked a pass through some bodies into the slot and found Matthew Tkachuk in the slot. Tkachuk couldn’t quite get a forehand shot off, so he swapped to his backhand and chipped the puck over Nilsson’s shoulder to tie the game at 2-2.

The Flames have been victimized by late goals often this year. Tonight, they victimized Vancouver off a really nice workmanlike shift from the Jankowski line. After a scramble in front that contained perhaps three good scoring chances – complete with Nilsson spinning around like a top without much comprehension of where the puck or his net was – the puck shot back into the corner. The Flames retrieved the puck, cycled the puck, and then Sam Bennett drove to the slot and backhanded the puck past Nilsson to make it 3-2.

Tkachuk added an empty-netter with 23 seconds left to ice it at 4-2. Shots were 11-5 Flames and scoring chances were 9-2 Flames.

Why The Flames Won

For roughly four games in a row, the Flames have played well. Their puck management may occasionally cause ulcers, but generally-speaking they have the puck much more often than their opponent and drive play. The Flames have been undone at times by bounces that went against them. The Giordano penalty and the Boeser goal was completely a situation that I expected to swing the game away from the Flames. Instead of letting it deflate them, the Flames seemed to allow it to fuel their anger.

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The last 10 minutes of this game was perhaps the best 10 minutes this team has played this season. Their middle-six forwards grabbed hold of the game and wouldn’t let go, and as a result the team managed to win a game despite their power play (and first line) looking largely invisible for the duration.

Red Warrior

Tkachuk scored a pair, including the key game-tying goal, so let’s go with him. But you could throw a dart at the depth players on this team – please don’t, it’s not safe – and hit somebody that played pretty well.

The Turning Point

The home side pushed hard in the third, but Tkachuk’s (first) goal to tie this one seemed to poke a hole in the Canucks’ defensive dam and Nilsson’s ability to find his net. Water started pouring out from there.

The Numbers

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

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Player Corsi
Frolik 75.8 80.0 2.075
Backlund 75.0 77.8 1.610
Tkachuk 73.5 77.8 2.825
Hathaway 72.2 90.0 2.025
Bennett 72.2 89.9 1.750
Hamilton 71.1 57.1 0.950
Jankowski 70.6 90.0 1.390
Giordano 69.2 57.1 0.675
Lazar 64.7 33.3 1.265
Brodie 63.6 85.7 0.675
Hamonic 61.5 87.5 0.975
Kulak 58.3 53.9 0.350
Stone 57.1 45.5 0.475
Monahan 55.0 62.5 0.300
Gaudreau 52.6 62.5 0.275
Stajan 50.0 28.6 0.010
Brouwer 50.0 28.6 0.900
Ferland 33.3 55.6 -0.240
Smith 0.700

This and That

Five different players had multi-point games and Jon Gillies made 28 saves as Stockton beat Tucson 5-2 to leap-frog into first place in the AHL’s Pacific Division. Morgan Klimchuk scored the eventual game-winner shorthanded in the first period.

Adam Ruzicka scored his 20th goal of the season as Sarnia beat Peterborough 3-1. (He scored all of last season.) Dillon Dube scored his 18th goal of the season but Kelowna lost to Brandon 7-4. Glenn Gawdin scored his 26th goal of the season (and added an assist) in Swift Current’s 3-2 win over Red Deer. Zach Fischer had two goals for Spokane in their 9-2 drubbing of Seattle. And D’Artagnan Joly had a goal and two assists in Baie-Comeau’s 6-0 win over Shawinigan.


“I thought we were better tonight in our mindset. But listen… I went and said this today, go back to Philly, we were doing the right things we just weren’t getting results. Now we’re getting results. But for me, looking at this team and knowing it like I do, we are growing.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s approach to this “big game.”

Up Next

The Flames (16-12-2) are off tomorrow, then prepare for a quick trip to the Twin Cities; they visit the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday evening.

    • cberg

      Bennett’s goal was a thing of beauty by the whole line. Love Jankowski’s smarts, making sure to keep backing up and dragging the D with him which provided the lane for Bennett to drive through. Those 3 are really gelling and working well together.

  • Damm shame

    So happy for Benny! After he missed point blank you could tell he was pissed and needed that puck to be in the net. He looked like a young jagr ( in that one play). Just loved the heart and perseverance. He’s heating up at the right time. Good win GFG

  • McRib

    When Sam Bennett missed that open net I thought to myself, crap not passive Sam “I can’t score for some reason, despite being an elite producer my entire life” Bennett again. Then he went ham and turned on the afterburners right after that play and I was like oh sh** this new/old Sam Bennett is here to stay for GOOD.

    It’s strange, Sam Bennett kind of looks like someone who scored 1.60 PPG as a draft eligible in the OHL.

  • CalgaryCandle

    Hathaway had assists on both Tzachuk’s game tying and Bennett’s game winning goals. He is consistently making an impact.

    Hrudey commented that Bennett’s move was “vintage Jagr.” Jagr has been injured too much to have really made that much of a difference so far, but as a fourth coach his influence has been very beneficial. From that point of view, the signing has been very positive.

    Calgary was beat on special teams tonight–o for 4 on pp and allowed Vancouver’s second goal, but still managed to win the game.

    It’s only an assist, but Lazar made a good play against Del Zoto and then a good, hard pass to Brouwer. What it we had four legitimate lines particularly if Jagr plays on the fourth when he returns. Babcock had Marner on the fourth and so were the Sedins earlier in the year. Hathaway deserves to continue playing with Bennett and Janko–they are definitely clicking and generating chances in every game.

      • Kevin R

        That PP sucked balls, that was the best way I could describe it. That will be our achilles heal if we don’t get it fixed…stat!!!…. Brodie & Hamonic have settled things down. Maybe Brodies issues are the team is expecting him to play like a top 2 D, have given him all the #1 PP time , minutes etc. He was maybe trying to do too much. Brodie is in my opinion a very good 2nd pairing D most teams would love to have. Why Im baffled as to why Hamilton isn’t getting the minutes or PP time.

  • BendingCorners

    So Brouwer scored, but he also passed the puck to the Vancouver forward who earned the primary assist on the first Canuck goal (scored by the forward abandoned by Stone at the side of the net) and then later released the forward on the zone entry who again earned the primary assist on the Vancouver PP goal (scored by a forward whom Stajan ignored completely whilst Brodie wandered the far-side wilderness).
    I don’t understand their PK alignment; defenders to the outside and staying there even when the play advances inward. It looks like a planned arrangement but shouldn’t the defenseman on the far side of the play move quickly to cover the net? That might in fact have prevented the second Vancouver goal, in spite of Brouwer and Stajan focusing exclusively on the puck instead of the opposing players.
    Overall I think they played well but too many of them still only focus on the puck and not on the locations of the other players.
    Beautiful goal by Bennett after lots of hard work by Jankowski and Hathaway. Tkachuk turned nothing into something on his first goal, and to give full credit where it’s due, Brouwer and Lazar showed some jump on Brouwer’s goal. Not a bad effort from the 4th line in spite of the breakdowns.

  • Atomic Clown

    In the last ten minutes of the 3rd, Bennett was a man possessed. There was so much confusion amd bodies in front of Nilsson that I’m surprised he was able to get a shot off. But following up on that play, retrieving the puck, power driving to the net and backhanding it past the goalie, that’s 19 year old Sam Bennett stuff.

  • Lucky 13

    Nice win Flames. The 3rd line is going to get plenty of chances to make a difference this season, if we keep them intact. But Jagr?

    I think Jagr may request a trade by the deadline. It would be nice to see him finish in the NHL with dignity. What if we could trade him to a team like Tampa Bay?

    Recoup a pick for him, let him get a final chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. It makes sense for him and us. Tampa may be able to use extra help come playoff time.

    • Damm shame

      Dude… We signed at the bitter end of the offseason for 1mil… He said himself 99% last season… and he is scratched every second week for a re occurring injury… love jags but if we get a 2023 7th rounder that’d be a steal.

      • Lucky 13

        I don’t think it’s as absurd as some believe it to be. I love Jagr, always will.

        His $1M was a steal when you consider what he’s done for some of our young players, Gaudreau and Bennett specifically.

        I’m not eager to let him go, I’m looking at it more of it like a rental for insurance with a team that is legitimately worthy of Stanley Cup glory.

        We’re not going to hoist the Cup, trash away all you want, however GG is NOT the coach to lead us to postseason glory.
        Our consistency is lacking. We have good stretches and abomination of stretches. Our window of contention is probably within the next 1-3 years as Gaudreau himself expressed.

        Jagr may not net us a great return, however you’d be surprised what some teams will do at TDL.

        It may bring the ire of FN for me to suggest it, however I would love to see Jagr celebrating his final season!

        • Cfan in Van

          I don’t think anyone’s offended by your suggestion, but it just defies logic to think that another team is going to find value in adding him at the tail end of the season. The whole league can see he’s behind a step, and misses half the games. The value is in the dressing room, but probably not realized until he’s been established with a team for a while.

    • flames2015

      Jagr will likely play on the the 4th line, with some 2nd unit PP time. That’s if hes injury free. But this is where his career is at. They’ll be lots of options for better players at the tdl. I don’t see teams lining up at the deadline for him, not for when he could have been had by anyone at the start of the season. He already has stanley cups, he’s just playing for the love of the game now.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Chucky…what a nice young man.

    Hey Fall!! Benny’s cookin’ up some crow for us!!!

    Anyways, big win, never say die, and for the love of all things good keep Hathaway around!!! Love his energy!

    Salute to General Gel and the stalwart troops GO FLAMES GO!!! Also…

    WHAT A NICE [email protected] YOUNG MAN 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

  • Trevy

    Secondary scoring at its finest! Great team play. Hathaway playing smart and with confidence. Great chemistry with Janko and Benny. Jags may be best on the fourth line and maybe some power play time

  • buts

    Zero shots on the first two PP’s and we couldn’t even get set up in the offensive zone. Someone in upper management has to do something. Unfreakinbelievable. The pp has cost us many points. Smith and raw talent is the reason where we are in the standings because it sure isn’t coaching.

  • The juice

    The Canucks played better for most of the game. Our power play is garbage. Against a healthy playoff team we would have been blowout tonight.
    We rarely finished checks and no one wanted to skate with the puck tonight, if you look at how our breakouts thru got dismantled. You can tell we got massively out coached.
    Even Smith needs to learn that maybe don’t play the puck on the stretch pass when it isn’t there.
    As a flames fan, I would say I’m on the WW train. I wish we lost a few in a row so we can get a coaching change. I have zero faith in GG.

  • Chucky

    It is amazing that FN has so much more hockey knowledge than Gulatzan. At the start of the year FN wanted Janko, Hathaway and Kulak in the lineup, Bennett on the wing, Ferland on the first line and Brouwer off the PP. Gulatzan wanted Glass in the NHL, Bartkowski on the ice, Bennett at center, Ferland on the bench and Brouwer the focal popint of the PP.
    So far FN has been proven right by the results the only thing that is left to correct is taking Brouwer off the PP. Last night 4 PPs three with Brouwer in front of the net and ZERO shots at the net, one with Ferland in front of the net and three shots at the net one on the net. Anyone watching could see why, the Canucks were happy to leave Brouwer unattended in front of the net, with Ferland in front of the net a defender was stuck to him. The true mystery is why can FN see these things and the coaching staff miss them?

  • Skylardog

    The Canucks are a weak team and had their top centre out. We spent about 50 minutes playing at roughly their level.

    Not sure what happened in the last 10, but they flipped a switch and took it to a level that frankly, they should be playing at for 60 minutes a game. It was like someone on the bench decided to “release the hounds!”

    I get the gut feeling that they were playing a defensive game for the first 50 and with 10 left Gully told them to go get a goal and tie it up. It was definitely a switch that got turned on. The question has to be asked “who turned that switch?”

    That last 10 was run and gun. Almost Hartley style, and it was fun. Vancouver had some chances after we tied it up, especially against the 4th line. But our talent prevailed. I so want to see the team that played in the last 10 for 60 every night. We would dominate the Pacific with that team.

    • Oil consuming Flames

      Professional athlete or not, maintaining that pace for 60 minutes is just not practical. coaches demand it, players aspire to fulfill it, but it isn’t plausible.

      Limiting turnovers, and playing more attention to detail with periods of sustained attack pressure and an commitment to containing the opposition is a far more reasonable

  • Carl the tooth

    Bennett ! It’s inevitable hmmm who said that …….. Carl the Truth strikes again! Some Carl guy said something about having Jankowski and HathawY on the 3rdline at camp got trashed for then ,feel pretty smart ? at the Moment. Nobody likes a know it all but I’m always right lol .