After a fairly uneven and uninspired effort on Friday in Manhattan, the Calgary Flames completed their tour of the New York City metro area on Sunday evening when they faced Brooklyn’s New York Islanders. Despite getting down by a 2-0 margin at one point the Flames were generally the better team. They were eventually rewarded for their efforts, with sophomore sensation Matthew Tkachuk factoring into three goals – one way or another – en route to a 3-2 road win over the Islanders.
The Flames got off to a decent start, but they couldn’t bury their chances and the Islanders took a lead on a weird play (and an uncharacteristically soft goal on Mike Smith). T.J. Brodie lost the puck in his own end and it trickled right onto the stick of Casey Cizikas, who poked the loose puck through Smith’s five-hole to make it 1-0. The rest of the period was rather tight. Ryan Lomberg, in an apparent attempt to spark the bench, was dummied by the much-larger Ross Johnston in a fight late in the period. He did not return to the game. Shots were 11-9 Flames but scoring chances were even at 10-10.
The Islanders doubled their lead early in the second off another weird mixture of defensive miscues and soft goaltending. Anthony Beauvillier beat Smith with a wrist shot from the point that went between Matt Stajan’s legs at the high slot… and then through Smith’s five-hole to make it 2-0. Smith probably couldn’t see it, but that’s one he has to have in a close game. The Flames answered back later in the period off a nice effort late on a power play. Some tic-tac-toe passing from under the red line from Johnny Gaudreau to Sam Bennett to Mark Jankowski ended with a tap-in for the rookie center and drew the Flames closer at 2-1.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) February 12, 2018
Shots were 14-7 Flames and chances were 8-5 Flames.
The visitors generated a lot of pressure in the third and they were able to draw even midway through the period. After a Brett Kulak dump-in, Michael Frolik beat the Islanders to the loose puck and chucked it on net, where Matthew Tkachuk redirected it over Jaroslav Halak’s pads to make it 2-2.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 12, 2018
And Tkachuk completed the Flames’ comeback late in the third with another nifty tip. With 65 seconds remaining in regulation, he redirected a Travis Hamonic point shot that was looking like it was going to miss the net entirely. Tkachuk’s redirect went off the inside post and trickled in to make it 3-2. The Islanders pulled Halak late but could not tie things up. Smith left the game with 1.1 seconds left with an apparent lower body injury and David Rittich finished the game off. Shots were 19-7 Flames and scoring chances were 19-2 Flames.
Why The Flames Won
The Flames were decent but a bit jumpy for the first half of the game and were fairly unlucky to be down 2-0. But they absolutely doubled down on their efforts and took over the game in the second half. They out-worked, out-battled and out-chanced the Islanders in the remainder of the game and probably should’ve had more than three goals.
Tkachuk. Hands-down, the most impactful Flame tonight. He drew three penalties, one which led to a goal, and scored the other two himself.
But if you look at the game-scores, nobody really had a bad game (aside from maybe the fourth line). It was as complete a game as you could ask for from this group, and a nice 180 from their uneven performance against the Rangers 48 hours prior.
The Turning Point
The Tkachuk tying goal was a long time coming, but it effectively poked a hole in the hull of the Islanders ship that was slowly taking on water before that point. From then on, the water came gushing in and it was only a matter of time before things went the Flames’ way.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
Down in the AHL, the Stockton Heat lost a razor-thin 5-4 decision to the Milwaukee Admirals. Andrew Mangiapane had a goal and three points (yay!) but Tyler Parsons left late in the third period with an apparent injury (boo!).
Tkachuk’s goal was his 20th of the season, which likely triggers a Schedule A performance bonus of around $212,500.
The Drive to 95 (Points)
The Flames now have 66 points with 26 games remaining. They need 29 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 14-11-1 record to hit the 95 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.
The Flames (29-19-8) head up the coast to Boston tonight. They play the Bruins on Tuesday night in pursuit of their 30th victory of the season.