The Calgary Flames spent their Sunday night beating up a depleted, not good Vancouver Canucks team. They spent their Wednesday night against a more formidable opponent, the St. Louis Blues. The game was decidedly more tight-checking and the Flames had to be at their best for the duration. But in a game that in many ways resembled the recent Nashville game, they made fewer mistakes than their opponents and captured a 2-1 victory over the Blues.
The first period set the tone for the rest of the game: tight-checking, back and forth, and not a ton of offensive flow. Both teams coughed up the puck with regularity in all three zones, making for a chaotic game overall. But the Flames managed to open the scoring midway through the period, and it was an odd goal. On a long pressure shift for the 3M Line, Michael Frolik appeared to score but the puck was swatted out of the air by Tage Thompson and play continued. But after 40 seconds of play, the horn went and the goal was allowed to make it 1-0 Flames.
Off Edmundson's hand, Hutton's back, and Thompson's stick. Normal hockey play pic.twitter.com/hUdm9T2j4o
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) December 21, 2017
The 3M Line had more chances before the end of period, including four or five good ones in one shift, but didn’t score. Shots were 9-8 Blues, but scoring chances were 9-7 Flames.
The Blues tied things up 86 seconds into the second period on a very common occurrence: a Dougie Hamilton minor penalty. With Hamilton in the box for cross-checking, Brayden Schenn waltzed into the Flames zone, danced around Troy Brouwer and fired a nifty wrist shot that beat Mike Smith just inside the post to make it 1-1. The teams exchanged power plays for the rest of the second but neither side scored. Shots were 14-8 Flames, but scoring chances were 5-3 Blues.
The Flames generated some nice chances early in the third, but Sam Bennett went to the box for being a bit too aggressive with his puck pursuit in the offensive zone. They managed to kill off that penalty, which gave them some momentum as the top line jumped onto the ice. On a broken play, Hamilton and Ivan Barbashev both swatted at a loose puck; Hamilton got it, and the ensuing bounced beat Hutton through traffic to make it 2-1 Flames. The home side defended well throughout the third. Shots were 11-5 Flames, while scoring chances were 10-5 Flames.
Why The Flames Won
Honestly? The Flames were better than the Blues at even-strength (out-chancing them 21-17) and their special teams units, while giving up a goal, managed to put 14 shots on net (compared to the Blues’ five). The Flames were a little bit better than the Blues in every situation, and that was enough for a hard-fought win.
Frolik. He was all over the ice, generated a ton of chances and was generally a catalyst for his team.
The Turning Point
The penalty kill in the third period gave the Flames a bunch of jump (and they generated a few good looks on that PK). They swung that successful kill into some offensive zone pressure and, eventually, the game-winning goal.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
— Kristen Odland (@Kristen_Odland) December 21, 2017
From the league, on why Frolik’s goal counted:
At 8:38 of the second period in the Blues/Flames game, the Situation Room requested play be stopped because the puck entered the St. Louis net at 7:58. According to Rule 38.7 “Should the Toronto Video Room (in cooperation with the Video Goal Judge) be able to determine that a goal was legitimately scored through the use of video replay prior to the next stoppage of play, the in arena horn shall be sounded to stop the play. The game clock (and penalty clocks, if applicable) shall be reset to the time of the goal.” Therefore the clock is reset to show 12:02 (7:58 elapsed time) and good goal Calgary.
The Flames are 5-1-3 when entering the third period tied. Their combined record, when entering the third not losing: 15-1-3.
“Today I thought was a good game in terms of limiting chances. Take the Vancouver game, same thing, basically under 10 chances five-on-five in both games. And then, we’re not losing any offense so it’s a good sell.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s ability to cut down their scoring chances against while still generating offense.
“The power play goal, there, Brouw got beat and that’s on the coaches. We made an adjustment there to put him in that spot which probably… And when I say ‘coaches,’ I’m going to say me. It was me that made the adjustment. And we actually reverted back to our standard kinda PK entry after that play. So sometimes those things work, sometimes they don’t. The little adjustments within a game. The pressure, you could see, in-zone on the penalty kill was different than it was seven, eight games ago.” – Gulutzan on his team’s special teams performance.
The Flames (18-14-3) practice tomorrow, then finish off their pre-Christmas schedule with a Friday night game with the Montreal Canadiens.