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Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Flames beat Chicago in review-filled game

The Calgary Flames have had some challenges with the Chicago Blackhawks in recent years. But this season they’ve managed to bring out the best of the Flames at times. On New Year’s Eve, the Flames played a strong game and got a big win. On Saturday night, the Flames played another solid game and scraped together a big come-from-behind win. And on Tuesday night in Chicago, the Flames recovered from a flat start and managed to hold onto a late lead to capture two huge points in a game that involved many goals facing video review.

They beat the Blackhawks 3-2 at the United Center to sweep their season series.

The Rundown

The Flames seemed back on their heels for much of the first period, playing a very reactive game early on – aside from some nice shifts from the top two lines here and there. The Blackhawks struck first on the power play. With Micheal Ferland in the box, the Flames couldn’t clear the zone and Alex Debrincat’s shot from the top of the circles eluded a screened Mike Smith to make it 1-0. The Flames got a gift late in the period, with a pair of overlapping Blackhawks penalties that gave them 1:40 of uninterrupted five-on-three time. They generated one shot. Shots were 11-6 Blackhawks, while scoring chances were 7-7.

The Flames evened things up early in the second period. After a Chicago turnover, Sean Monahan drove up the ice and threw the puck to the front of the net for a charging Dougie Hamilton. The puck careened off Hamilton’s skate and in to make it 1-1.

Ryan Hartman scored off a goal-mouth scramble soon after the Flames’ equalizer, but it was eventually overturned. The officials had to review if the puck was kicked in, judging that there was no distinct kicking motion. Then Glen Gulutzan used his coach’s challenge due to goalie interference – Hartman booted Smith in the crotch on the scramble – and the goal was overturned.

Shots 12-6 Chicago, chances 9-6 Chicago

The game seemed destined for overtime – as many Flames games have been this season – but fate intervened in the form of Michael Stone. The Flames were back on their heels for a lengthy pressure shift from Chicago, but pushed back and went on an offensive rush. The puck was cycled to the point and Stone’s point shot eluded Jeff Glass with Johnny Gaudreau pressuring out front. It was reviewed for a high stick, but the replay seemed to show the puck glance off Glass’ blocker or stick and hit the net to make it 2-1.

Monahan added an empty-netter to make it 3-1 with just under two minutes left.

Patrick Kane scored a late one to make it 3-2, but that’s as close as Chicago got. Shots were 13-11 Blackhawks and chances were 7-3 Blackhawks.

Why The Flames Won

Despite some rough special teams play and not exactly blowing the doors off at even strength, the Flames managed to get some strong goaltending from Mike Smith (again) and got some key goals from their key players to eke out a win. It wasn’t a picturesque game by any stretch, and the reviews killed the flow of the game quite a bit, but it was (as they say) good enough for two points.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with a joint award to the entire first line, as Ferland, Monahan and Gaudreau were strong all evening. It was the type of game where the top six, the top pairing and the team’s goaltender had to be the difference-makers, and they were.

The Turning Point

Stone’s goal was the right goal at the right time.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Ferland 65.6 57.1 0.800
Giordano 62.8 60.0 1.125
Monahan 60.6 61.5 2.220
Hamilton 60.5 53.9 1.415
Gaudreau 56.8 61.5 2.650
Frolik 55.0 10.0 0.090
Tkachuk 45.5 11.1 0.250
Backlund 44.0 10.0 0.175
Bennett 41.4 75.0 -0.475
Brouwer 41.2 66.7 -0.070
Stone 39.1 60.0 1.025
Jankowski 38.5 75.0 -0.080
Hamonic 37.1 42.9 -0.225
Brodie 33.3 33.3 0.275
Kulak 31.6 60.0 -0.275
Hathaway 28.6 85.7 -0.450
Stajan 25.0 80.0 -0.350
Lazar 11.1 75.0 -0.635
Smith 1.900
Rittich

This and That

The Drive to 95 (Points)

The Flames now have 62 points with 29 games remaining. They need 33 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 16-12-1 record to hit the 95 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (27-18-8) travel to scenic Newark tonight. They practice tomorrow and then face the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

    • FlamesRule

      Seriously though. I was cheering when he threw that hip check but then I’m like wait – a guy that skates like he does- why isn’t he doing that every game? Too soft to wear a Flames jersey. Dougie is almost the same but at least his offence is consistent.

  • Off the wall

    Our first line carried the mail again.
    Our Backlund line was good on the defensive side.
    3rd line looked ineffective.
    4th line was bad this time around.

    We really need to generate secondary scoring again. We can’t rely on Monahan’s line every game.

    I really liked Hamonic’s game.
    I don’t care what his Corsi was.
    He was pinching when he needed to and was solid defensively.

    Good win, another 5 to go.

    • Puckhead

      Yup, having solid 3rd and 4th lines are essential to be successful in today’s NHL. Last year Anaheim strategically pulled our weak lines apart in the playoffs.

      Maybe that’s why GG continually puts our weaker lines out right after we get scored on. Trying not to be outmatched by the other teams 3rd and 4th lines.

  • Trevy

    Bennett was invisible except when taking dumb penalties. I’m really starting to think he’s not happy in his role. Brodie was equally bad tonight. If BT is to make any significant moves at the TDL, I’m sure it’ll involve these two

    • The Sultan

      As someone who has trashed both Bennett and Brodie, I say hang on to both players until we see them under a different coaching staff. Plus Bennett is only 21. I think we’re expecting too much for him, and he’s expecting too much of himself.

        • McRib

          Yeah. Bennett is still three years away from entering prime, we must be patient. Not to mention it can’t be fun trying to open drag Troy Brouwer around most of his career the past two seasons up until this point, I don’t blame Bennett for being frustrated, which you’re right he totally looked it tonight.

          • Mickey O

            The Janko line didn’t get a shift until about 11:20 in the first period. Bennett was at 5 minutes and change after the second period, and ended up with 9 minutes exactly for the game. Hardly a way to instill confidence in a couple of youngsters from the coach.

          • everton fc

            Remember Bennett centering Gaudreau, pre-season.

            Never forget this. This is his potential. Will he reach it? We’ll know next season. But I might move Bennett and Brodie for Marner and Kapanen.

    • King Quong

      Honestly Bennetts interference penalty was weak and I don’t believe it should’ve been called secondly the goaltender interference penalty is something that’s going to happen sometimes when you’ve got someone playing a fast forechecking the last thing you want bennett doing on that play is over thinking it more often than not that play is going to lead to another team’s mistake rather than a negative to the flames. I didn’t have a problem with either penalty it’s just hockey.

  • Chrissu

    Gaudreau got is 4th straight 60 point season. Just saying….

    Anywho, it looked like a pretty meh game. Glad we were able to sweep the series against the Blackhawks (and potentially cut off their playoff chances). Can Hamonic play on his offside? If he can, try swapping Brodie and Hamonic around. The third line looked pretty overwhelmed

  • Calgarycandle

    Half–empty: 2-2-4 in last eight and a possible 6 points out of 12.
    Half-full: 9–2-4 in last fifteen and a possible 22 of 30 points.
    Calgary has invented its own psychological optimism/pessimism test.

  • McRib

    I hope we make the playoffs this year, but I think next year is when it will all start to come together for this team. Brouwer will hopefully be bought out, Stajan will also be off the books, hopefully we’ll have moved on from the Lazar experiment to greener pastures like Dube, Stone traded for forward depth or a pick to free up Andersson would also be nice, etc. Right now our scoring depth is killing us, but I do enjoy watching our Top. 6 on a nightly basis, no complaints there. The top line went to work the last two games, they’re really elite at this point. Ferland destroyed all tonight, he deserved more on the score sheet.

    • everton fc

      I am one who had bashed GG a bit, here and there. He’s got this team 9 games over .500.

      I agree – don’t make any crazy moves, at the deadline. A lot of talk of Grabner coming here. I like this move. Bennett-Jankowski-Grabner would be a nice 3rd line. A potentially great 3rd line, for a playoff run. But I sense we are trying to stay close or sneak into a #7/8 spot, until Versteeg returns. Insert Versteeg w/Bennett and Jankowski, go with Hathaway-Stajan/Lazar-Brouwer as your 4th line, and see what happens. I think any movement at the deadline will be for picks. But all we have to offer is one of our bottom 4 defencemen.

      Ferland will score 20+ again, next season, same linemates. He’s a core player, and should wear the “A”, once Brouwer moves on.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Brouwer with 2 years at more than $8M will be bought out? I could well see Stajan back for a year at $1M+. If not Stajan, who is waiting in the wings to centre the 4th line? You’ve already got rid of Lazar. Dube? Can’t think the kid can go straight from junior into the show and stick. Would a year in Stockton kill him? Stone might be tough to move because of his contract. In any case, he is not likely bringing back a wow-wow.

      In summary, you are blaming third and fourth line forwards and a fifth or sixth defenceman for holding us back from being a serious cup contender. Wow! Frankly, I am not buying your argument one bit. No sale!

      • Jobu

        Like they rushed Monahan, Tkachuk, Bennett? Seemed to work OK for most of them. Why not Dube too? He’s played some great aggressive shut down hockey and still putting up points.

  • aye

    A bit disappointed with Janko’s “bounce-back” game.

    Wasn’t a very fun game to watch, but if the boring road style game is what gets the points, I guess it’s better than the frustrating and losing home style games.

  • freethe flames

    Currently we sit 3rd in the Pacific(tied) but only 2 points out of second. It would sure help if the PP could start connecting but this is a horse we have beaten to death all season. The playoff race in the NHL is going to go down to the wire; yes there are tams that are out of it and I would say barring a miracle the Hawks are ow one of them. This close race will make the trade deadline even more interesting also the Backlund watch.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Why not turn the PP over to the players? Coaches can’t seem to figure it out, so let the players decide. Gio or one of the assistants decides who plays PP and positions them. While they are on the ice, the players on the bench decide who the second line is and where each plays. Barring a sudden brainwave from the coaches that actually works or the addition of a player who is bona fide power play specialist, why not let the players run the power player? It can’t be any worse.

    • supra steve

      Perhaps we could also download player management/trades to the players too? They may also be able to replace the training and equipment staff with rookies. You are onto something good here, me thinks.

    • Cfan in Van

      Honestly, they should be trying anything at this point. Change it up every game till they find something that clicks… It’s just so bad right now. That 5 on 3 was shameful.