Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: The streak continues, Flames survive Lightning storm

The Tampa Bay Lightning are really good. They’re the best score-adjusted possession team in hockey. But being good at possession doesn’t always result in a ton of goals. That was the case tonight when they faced the Calgary Flames. The Flames were largely out-played at even strength this evening, but they got better goaltending than the Lightning. Playing the best team in the National Hockey League, the Flames played smart, opportunist hockey and rode a strong goaltending performance to a 5-1 victory to extend their winning streak to five games.

The Rundown

The opening period was essentially two periods. In the first half of the period, the Flames were aggressive and the Lightning seemed taken aback by the pace. The visitors opened the scoring with a nice sequence; Johnny Gaudreau was halted on a zone entry, but he passed the puck at the blueline to Sean Monahan and sprung him and Micheal Ferland into the offensive zone. Monahan teed up Ferland for a one-timer and that made it 1-0 Flames. Tampa woke up midway through the period and gradually got better and better chances, but Mike Smith was sharp. Shots were 16-7 Lightning, while scoring chances were 10-5 Lightning.

The Lightning wasted no time evening this game up in the second period. Just 31 seconds in, Brayden Point scored from the high slot off a nice set-up from Tyler Johnson – the scoring chance enabled by a turnover by the visitors at the Flames blueline. Smith made a massive save on Cedric Paquette on a penalty shot in the middle of the period, then the Flames got a big penalty kill with Garnet Hathaway in the box. Roughly 30 seconds after that kill, Gaudreau gave the Flames a lead they would never give up. After inducing a Lightning turnover in the offensive zone, Gaudreau headed to the Lightning end. Ferland fed him a pass at the blueline and Gaudreau danced around Andrei Vasilevskiy and tucked the puck between his pads to make it 2-1.

And the Flames got their first power play goal since the Chicago game late in the period. After a faceoff win, T.J. Brodie wandered in from the slot and skated around the net, feeding Sam Bennett. Bennett either tried a weak shot or a pass across the slot, but the puck bonked off Braydon Coburn’s stick and into the net to make it 3-1. Shots were 11-10 Flames, while scoring chances were 6-3 Lightning.

The Flames entered the third period with a lead for the fifth consecutive game. This time, they didn’t give up a thing in the third. Mark Jankowski made it 4-1 off a nice pass from Hathaway and a sweet deke around Yanni Gourde before going shelf on Vasilevskiy.

Troy Brouwer fed Matthew Tkachuk on a two-on-one rush to make it 5-1. The Lightning had an edge in shots (8-6) and scoring chances (8-2).

Why The Flames Won

Let’s be blunt here: the Flames were fortunate to be tied midway through this game. Their goaltending kept them in this one. But they were in a position where their special teams could tilt the game when both teams had a power play in the last five minutes of the second. Tampa got nothing from their power play and the Flames got a lucky break on theirs, and suddenly it was 3-1. From there, the Flames made hay in the first half of the third period and kept the lead for once.

Smith was good consistently, while their special teams units were good when they needed them to be.

Red Warrior

We gotta go with Smith, who was superb all evening. But every line had nice moments in fits and starts, though overall the team was back on their heels possession-wise for roughly two-thirds of the game.

The Turning Point

The kill with Hathaway in the box was pretty big, especially considering the Flames scored immediately afterwards. The final five minutes in the second period swung the game.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Hamilton 54.3 28.6 1.550
Giordano 48.6 33.3 0.325
Brodie 48.2 50.0 0.700
Mangiapane 46.7 25.0 -0.050
Stajan 46.7 25.0 0.090
Lazar 42.9 25.0 -0.060
Ferland 42.9 30.0 1.435
Hamonic 42.4 44.4 -0.050
Bennett 41.7 60.0 0.675
Backlund 40.0 35.7 0.110
Tkachuk 39.3 35.7 0.900
Jankowski 39.1 60.0 1.525
Gaudreau 37.9 36.4 1.325
Brouwer 37.5 36.4 0.670
Monahan 36.7 33.3 0.605
Hathaway 33.3 60.0 0.425
Kulak 22.6 36.4 -0.550
Stone 16.0 40.0 -0.750
Smith 2.550

This and That

The five Flames goals were scored by five different goal-scorers, each of which were drafted and developed by the Flames.

It’s worth noting that Victor Hedman left the game early in the second period after an awkward collision with Hathaway. Tampa had to ride with five defenders the rest of the way. It’s not the reason they lost, but it was definitely a contributing factor.

Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper had a bit of fun with the Flames, putting these signs throughout the road team’s coaches office:

The Drive to 95 (Points)

The Flames now have 50 points with 39 games remaining. They need 45 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 22-16-1 record to hit the 95 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (23-16-4) are shuffling across the state, as they play in Sunrise tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers (puck drop at 5:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet Flames).

  • Orrwasbest

    Time to get real here. I love the win but we were totally out played and all you have to do is look at the corsi to see by how much. Their goaltending was pathetic ours was great. We were due for a win when being outplayed though as we have had several loses in December when outplaying the opposition!

    • Soupy19

      Not sure I agree that their goaltending was “pathetic”. Other than the goal by Bennett that was deflected in off a defenceman’s stick, which of the other 4 goals do you think Vasilevskiy should have stopped?

  • Grayone

    Great comments guys & gals! That ole phrase of making the “timely save ” works once again. Big time! Except it was ‘timely’ times 6 or more!! BT has taken plenty of shtick here for some of his moves but the Smith trade, in an effort to ‘win this year’ continues to look superb. Smith’s health here-on-in will be a key … Rittich tonight will give him a good rest and if Rittich does the business … why not use him against Carolina to give Smithy quite the rest??

    No head shaking anymore with Janko … what a player we are seeing blossoming before our eyes. Great goal but lots of other items as well: face-off wins, great defensive support, excellent puck protection and he has gift of getting the best out of his line mates. Hathaway is doing terrific on his right side and to tell you the truth, we could move Bennett up and slot Mangi in for a look-see. Jeez Mangi was robbed on that gold-plated 3rd period chance …

    Finally props to Stockton’s Best! I really like his fan-takes on the Stockton team … he has to be really pleased the way the ‘his’ players have lifted the Flames … BT has many options in the coming weeks and even months. If Anderson is what SF says … ‘sick’ and ready … that means Stone and or ?? could be moved with some confidence. He could package a vet “D” and real good prospect for sure to get that so-called prized right winger.

    Keep it going tonight Boyz!

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Sure on Edmonton and Buffalo, Stone would be a top 4, but unless a club has been decimated on the blueline, is there any playoff aspirant who would slot Stone higher than 5th or 6th? As well, Stone has an ugly contract for a bottom pairing defender. With these in mind, do you really think Stone brings back a decent haul? I guess it would depend on who the “real good prospect” he is being packaged with. Stone cannot be the headline guy if you expect a prized right winger in return.

      By all means, Tre can try and dangle Stone for gold. All the power to him. If after the trade deadline, Stone is still a Flame and Anderson’s time is now, why not promote Anderson, demote Barty and pair Anderson with Kulak and Stone rides shotgun on popcorn row? Flames will need some depth on defence if they intend to be playing into June. Stone would provide that. In this scenario, Stone would get dealt over the summer.

      • Atomic Clown

        Right handed defensemen are rated higher than their actual skill level for some reason. A middling team close to the cap won’t care much for him. However an elite team with injuries, or a retooling team would consider Stone. He’s an effective 5d, and a decent 4d, but only if his partner is better than him.

        • Sensei

          Am I the only one that can see how ineffective Brodie is? Every time he’s on the ice he’s a liability and last night was no exception. Case in point – on the only Lightning goal Brodie decides it’s a good idea to leave the front of the net open and go help along the boards in a one on one situation on the boards. Get Real!!
          Flames may make the playoffs but they’re not getting past the first round if Brodie is in the top four.