On Saturday night in Calgary, the Flames played a really good game against one of the National Hockey League’s top clubs. Unfortunately, the Flames got zero bounces and ended up losing a 2-0 heartbreaker to the Nashville Predators. On Sunday night in Vancouver, the Flames had a second chance as they played against a very depleted Vancouver Canucks team.
And they ended up bringing more or less the same level of effort, pretty much clobbering the Canucks in a wildly uncompetitive 6-1 victory to close out their season series with three wins in four games with Vancouver.
As they did against Nashville, the Flames came out of the gates strong. They had many scoring chances. Unlike against Nashville, they scored an early goal! A Garnet Hathaway dump-in was collected him him and Sam Bennett on the forecheck, and after a few board battles won, Bennett fed Mark Jankowski in the slot for a quick wrister and a 1-0 lead. This was the only goal the Flames got in the first, but it was as close as this sucker would get. Shots 9-7 were Flames, scoring chances were 9-8 Flames.
The dam burst for the Flames in the second period. On a four-on-four stretch, Johnny Gaudreau sprung Mark Giordano for a rush and he drove past Ben Hutton and shelved a puck over Jacob Markstrom to make it 2-0. The teams exchanged chances a bit for the rest of the period, but the Flames put things out of reach with a three goal outburst late in the period.
- Bennett sprung Matthew Tkachuk into the Canucks zone with a pass and his wrister beat Markstrom to make it 3-0.
- Following a successful penalty kill, Mark Giordano took a pass from the boards from Matt Stajan and tucked it past Markstrom for his second of the game to give the Flames a 4-0 lead.
- An outlet pass from Travis Hamonic sprung Bennett onto another rush and he beat Markstrom with a snapshot to make it 5-0 – he was looking like he was going for a pass, but shot it instead.
Second period recap pic.twitter.com/gnCp4uT0c8
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) December 18, 2017
Shots were 10-6 Flames, scoring chances were 9-5 Flames.
The two teams exchanged power play goals in the third, as Anders Nilsson came in and generally looked quite good but had to play behind an utterly defeated team. Markus Granlund snapped David Rittich’s shutout bid when he jammed in a rebound to make it 5-1. But Micheal Ferland got his own rebound late on a power play to make it 6-1 – he tried to slide the puck into the slot, but the puck bounced back to him and so he just jammed the puck in anyway. Shots were 19-4 Flames, scoring chances were 8-1 Flames.
Why The Flames Won
They outplayed Vancouver in basically every situation. Aside from allowing a power play goal – and admittedly, it was in garbage time so it’s hard to hold it against them – they played a very good 60 minutes of hockey. They got saves when they needed ’em, hits when they needed ’em and many, many goals.
It’s also worth noting that while the top six wasn’t amazing tonight, continuing a stretch where they’ve looked fairly ordinary, the third line looked thoroughly strong.
Bennett had a goal and four primary points tonight. His line was superb and continued a stretch of strong play, but man, Bennett was next-level tonight.
The Turning Point
The three goals late in the second completely toppled the Canucks and they spent the remainder of the game looking terrified anytime the Flames had the puck.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
"The guys played well. They play like they don't need a goalie today. That was good for me." – David Rittich. pic.twitter.com/R6Og7FkHUC
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 18, 2017
Rittich has three NHL starts. All three were the second game of a back-to-back (with travel). He’s won all three of them.
The Flames (17-14-3) head home and have an off day tomorrow. They’re back on the practice ice on Tuesday and prepare to begin their pre-holiday homestretch when they host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.