The Calgary Flames closed out 2017 with another uneven game of hockey. But unlike other recent uneven games, they managed to eke out a win. The Flames got out to a 3-0 lead and then held on for dear life against the Chicago Blackhawks, who roared back to force overtime. Thanks to some heroics from their captain, the Flames finished off the calendar year with a 4-3 overtime victory.
The locals had tons of good chances in the first period, but couldn’t get anything past Jeff Glass. But with a late period power play and the clock winding down, a pair of head’s up plays made all the difference. Mark Giordano made a long stretch pass to Sean Monahan, who tipped the puck deep into the Chicago zone with less than 10 seconds left. Monahan chased the puck down, hucked it to the front of the net and Matthew Tkachuk jammed it in to make it 1-0. Shots were 19-7 Flames and scoring chances 10-6 Flames.
Matthew Tkachuk added another one five minutes into the second, again on the power play, redirecting a nice feed from Johnny Gaudreau to make it 2-0. Sean Monahan one-timed a gorgeous Gaudreau pass 65 seconds later to make it 3-0. Just when it seemed like the Flames would run away with it, the Blackhawks woke up and answered back with two goals in 56 seconds. Just after the Flames killed off a penalty, Jordan Oesterle’s shot (with a big Ryan Hartman screen of Mike Smith) made it through to make it 3-1. The Flames failed to clear their zone off a defensive faceoff win, and Oesterle’s shot was stopped by Jonathan Toews jammed in the rebound to make it 3-2. Chicago had many subsequent chances, but Smith stood tall. Shots were 18-12 Blackhawks, chances 14-6 Blackhawks.
The third period featured the Flames attempting to run down the clock and largely succeeding. But with the goalie pulled in Chicago’s end, Sam Bennett couldn’t quite get it to the center line before trying to score on an empty net and the Flames were called for icing. Off the faceoff win, Brandon Saad’s shot went in off a defender to make it 3-3. Shots were 12-6 Blackhawks, chances 9-4 Blackhawks.
But in overtime, the Flames responded. Tkachuk couldn’t beat Glass to complete the hat trick, but Mikael Backlund corralled the puck and fed Giordano at the point and his nifty wrister beat Glass to make it a 4-3 final.
Why The Flames Won
The Flames weren’t any great shakes at even strength, particularly as the game wore on, but their goaltending and their special teams units were just enough to make the difference.
Tkachuk. He was in rare form and probably could’ve had six goals if not for Glass.
The Turning Point
The game-winner from Giordano; the right goal from the right player at the right time.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
It was Andrew Mangiapane’s first career NHL game and Mikael Backlund’s 500th. Mangiapane didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he was excellent for a first-timer.
Kudos to #Flames trainer/equipment guru @mark_depo for his 1,500th #NHL game. The time and energy spent behind the scenes to get the players what they need and ensure they are prepared is never recognized enough. People like him matter.
— Kristen Odland (@Kristen_Odland) January 1, 2018
The Flames (19-16-4) have a couple days of practice ahead of them. They host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Thanks very much for reading throughout 2017, gang. We’ll have more fun stuff headed your way in 2018.