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Photo Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Music to their ears

The Calgary Flames played some flat, uninspired hockey on Tuesday night in Boston. They were out-performed by a very good hockey team. On Thursday night in Nashville, they made up for it. The Flames had jump, had pep and scored some timely goals en route to a 4-3 victory over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

The Flames close out their six game road trip by capturing eight of a possible 12 points, keeping themselves very much in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

The Rundown

The opening frame was pretty even. The Flames took a penalty and killed it off midway through the period, but the Predators kept them hemmed in even after the penalized player returned. Ryan Johansen jammed home a loose rebound to make it 1-0 Nashville. But the Flames answered back before the period was over with a rarity – a power play goal! Seconds into their man advantage, a Mark Giordano point shot careened off Sean Monahan’s pants and dropped in front of the net and Matthew Tkachuk fired home the loose puck to make it 1-1.

 

Shots were 11-7 Flames and scoring chances were 11-6 Flames.

The Flames played a mighty fine road period in the second. They kept scoring chances minimized and got the better of Nashville at even strength. A bouncing puck (and Victor Arvidsson) snuck behind the Flames defense on a four-on-four sequence. The shot hit the post, but T.J. Brodie lost an edge trying to pivot to play the trailing player, Yannick Weber, and Weber scored with the loose puck to make it 2-1. But the Flames got that one back with another rarity – a five-on-three goal. With two Predators in the penalty box, Dougie Hamilton finished off a nice passing sequence with a wrister from the high slot that beat Pekka Rinne to tie the game at 2-2.

Shots were 9-6 Flames and chances 3-1 Flames.

The Flames extended their lead in the third period, then hung on for dear life. Brett Kulak made a nice defensive play and sprung Mark Jankowski, Sam Bennett and Tkachuk on a three-on-two rush. A neat passing sequence ended with Jankowski getting a tap-in to make it 3-2.

A while later, Curtis Lazar got a gift as he lobbed a muffin over Rinne’s glove from just inside the blueline to make it 4-2.

However, the lead was twimmed as David Rittich whiffed on some puck handling and Nick Bonino ended up redirecting the ensuing Pontus Aberg shot to make it 4-3. Dougie Hamilton was levied a late penalty (making the game a six-on-four situation). Glen Gulutzan wasn’t pleased.

But Flames held on for the win. Shots were 17-9 Predators, but chances were even at 6-6.

Why The Flames Won

This was primarily a special teams win, but on this occasion no aspects of their game were out-and-out bad. They were out-scored 3-2 at even strength, though one goal was at the tail-end of a power play, one goal was a result of Brodie blowing a tire, and one goal was Rittich whiffing on some puck-handling. Systemically, they didn’t fail at even strength. But even if you ignore that, they scored twice on the power play and otherwise outworked and outplayed a very good Predators club.

Red Warrior

I’ve gotta give it to Tkachuk, who continued a very nice stretch where he’s been the straw that stirs the drink for the team offensively. He got double-shifted at times to get the third line going and it generally seemed to work.

The Turning Point

The five-on-three. The Flames needed a goal to grab momentum back from the Predators. They ended up getting four shots and a ton of puck movement, along with a crucial goal. They never looked back.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Kulak 64.7 75.0 0.325
Jankowski 61.9 60.0 1.270
Bennett 61.9 60.0 0.965
Hathaway 55.6 33.3 -0.050
Gaudreau 54.1 66.7 0.850
Monahan 52.8 66.7 1.670
Hamonic 52.2 12.5 0.325
Tkachuk 50.0 41.7 1.675
Stone 50.0 75.0 -0.100
Ferland 48.5 60.0 0.080
Giordano 46.3 57.1 1.125
Hamilton 43.5 59.1 1.275
Brodie 40.0 22.2 -0.225
Frolik 38.9 46.2 -0.350
Backlund 33.3 30.0 -0.490
Lazar 30.0 40.0 0.965
Stajan 27.3 40.0 -0.260
Lomberg 25.0 40.0 0.175
Rittich 0.650
Gillies

The Drive to 96 (Points)

The Flames now have 68 points with 24 games remaining. They need 28 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 14-10-0 record to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (30-20-8) hop on their charter and fly back to Calgary tonight. They’re off tomorrow, then prepare to host the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

  • RKD

    Love seeing us beat the Preds a #1 team in the Central and Stanley Cup finalist. This Flames club are road warriors, will come in massively handy in the playoffs to steal games on the road.

    • Kevin R

      Put him on a line with Janko & Bennett & we may just get to see his ceiling. Cant stop watching that goal & yearning what if….what if our coach could see the potential of secondary scoring from a line of home grown 1st rounders that all have excellent upside to being a top line in this league & actually play them together all the time. That would be too easy.

      • Flint

        That’s exactly what I was saying a day or two ago. GG is so tied to the 3M line, he refuses to try a new combo. We’ve got perhaps two future #2 centers on that play and a super skilled Tkachuk… Backlund and Frolik should be a third line.

        Tkachuk playing RW (which he can and has done) also brings more skill to our otherwise weak right side.

  • Hockeyfan

    As i have been typing for some time now, move Janko line to 2nd spot with Byng and have Backs with Fro and Hath or Lazar on the 3rd line and watch the goals and wins come. Liking Dave the challenger.

  • Off the wall

    I have to admit GG is doing some good things. He’s double shifted Gaudreau on the 4th line and now he’s double shifting Tkachuk on the Jankowski line with Bennett. Every time they get possession it is impressive what they are capable of doing.
    GG called a timeout. I’m glad he’s making better choices.

    I’m happy for Lazar, sometimes you need a wobbly goal just to regain your scoring touch.

    I must admit Hamonic has really stepped up his game. Proud of him.

    Glad to see Rittich win this one.
    He’s a fighter, like Smith and that save with 8 seconds left made my jaw drop!

    I hope we can start translating all the road success to our home barn.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      I didn’t mind Tkachuk double shifting on the Janko line. It paid off. I wasn;t as happy with the Gaudreau double shifting with Stajan. Too soft from the middle out. Resulted in a penalty against Stajan.

  • Hockeyfan

    Nice to see the welfare disgraces continuing to disgrace the NHL more than it is already. Complete joke of a franchise the coilers will be for another 5 years.

  • Mickey O

    Flicked over to the Oilers-Vegas game. Live mike going to commercial, “just going through the motions.”

    Then Principe interviewed George Laraque. Big George was talking about how much he enjoys visiting kids in hospital. They are fighting for their lives, and he was just fighting on the ice.

    Then the power burn (he said it twice), something along the lines of, “Nurse, Looch need to go see kids in the hospital. It will do them some good. They could get a heart transplant.” Ouch!

    • Mickey O

      JJ Khaira beat the hell out of Miller. That’s the second fight I’ve seen him in, he’s a tough SOB, heavy bombs, and actually looks like he feels like playing.

      Lucic destroyed a guy on the boards. Maybe he heard Laraque.

        • Flaymin Frank

          Your pain is palpable. I keep seeing comparisons to the ’67 Leafs. A star laden team that was the benchmark for the club and who’s stars were trotted out to centre ice over the years like aging show ponies. The Leafs have finally have reached a level of relevance 50 yrs after that vaunted ’67 season. The Oilers seem to be on the same path. But for your sake (& many others) I truly hope it doesn’t take 50 years.

      • Anonymoustrollpolice

        JJ Khaira, may have beat the hell out of Someone tonight.. but it means nothing when it’s pure fu@kery surrounding this team again this year. The oilers are my team but all I can think about is those smug know it all fu@cks like K Lowe and Mac T still employed by a failing product of epic proportions, sipping there $500 wine on a night where our team not only embarrassed themselves as professional athletes but embarrassed an organization beyond belief AGAIN. If there was ever one thing the oilers should envy of the Calgary flames it would be a little thing called professionalism. The flames may not have a Stanley cup contending roster yet but at least the flames go out and give them selves a chance more often than not.

        Signed,
        Fed up fn Oilers fan

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Can’t think of anything more tiresome than a forlorn Oilers fan bemoaning his club’s poor play and gutting management for causing this stinking mess.

          I blame Oiler fans for the substandard product on the ice this year because it was you clowns who gave such a ringing endorsement to team management last season. Anybody and his dog could see the Oilers overachieved by a lot last playoffs, yet the fans’ delirious support of the team last spring told management in a unified and clear voice to keep doing what it had been doing, so instead of trying to significantly improve the club, management made a series of personnel blunders which, while roundly criticized elsewhere, were wildly applauded in Edmonton. Trading Eberle for salt and going long-term with Russell? Come on! But in Edmonton, you fans lapped up these moves calling them progress.

          I squarely blame Oiler fans for being enablers of bad team management. Instead of withdrawing your support for the club and demanding Katz sell it to an owner committed to icing a winning team, Oiler fans start wetting themselves with the news Hall of Famer Paul Coffey is rejoining the team as a consultant.

          You have given management a free ride for for too long. You have failed to make management accountable for the inferior product that it continues to put on the ice.

          Oiler management is truly bad, but it is you dopey fans who continue to allow it to plod along from one disaster to the next one safe in the knowledge that the fans will continue to support the team.

          It is you, Oiler fan, who is the biggest reason the team sucks.

  • Calgarycandle

    The Flames look to have figured out the key to PP success with Byng as net front presence. Yes, it took 58 games, but I’m not sure Byng was the same player in October as he is in mid-February. It seems to me his confidence with tips has been the last 15-20 games. I’d love to clone him and put him on three lines–with Gaudreau and Monahan, the 3M line and with Bennett and Jankowski. Double shifting achieves one of those clones. But I wonder if GG should experiment with making Bennett, Byng and Janko the second line. Backs, Fro and maybe Hath the third line with a shut down function. Just wondering.

        • Flint

          Yup. Although, Matthew himself says it, and others. I’m still not convinced Brady is as good as Matthew. He’s bigger. He’s a better skater. But Matthew’s hockey IQ is off the charts. At every comparable level Matthew has better stats. They say Brady is the best Tkachuk, if that’s true, he’d have to be/will be scary good. Keith was no slouch.

          • Atomic Clown

            I just don’t get how Brady could be so much more than Matthew. Unless he’s Connor McDavid. Matthew was 1/3 of the most dominant line in CHL history, (other than kane-gagner-kostitsyn), and was definitely not a passenger. Marner and Tkachuk drove that line, Dvorak just happened to be there. Brady does not have comparable junior numbers.

  • loudogYYC

    That play on the Janko goal reminded me a lot of a goal from last year. February 8th in Pittsburgh, a 3M line tic tac toe goal that’s worth watching again and again. Look it up.

    As far as Tkachuk goes, I’d be all for playing him on the Janko line if we pick up another capable winger at the deadline to take his place as 2LW or drop Ferly to that position and the new winger plays 1RW.

  • Lamepoop

    I only got to watch part of the game but from what I saw Hamonic was playing very well and Im glad Lazar got another goal. Tkachuk has just been on a role lately and I hope he can keep this up. Also, thank god we are scoring on the pp as It’s coming through big time. GFG

    • Rocket66

      Why do I keep reading the odd time about moving ferland that line has chemistry maybe not every night but most nights they play well. Johnny needs ferland on that line. He has skills and he might just make people think twice about crashing JG. I have noticed lately that JG has Been playing a tougher game. I’ve always said he needs to grow a set I think ferland has helped him in that area And for that reason alone I would leave ferland where he is

  • Chucky

    After watching that game it is hard to see where the hole is that needs to be filled at the TDL. However they need to stop changing their game once they get a lead. When Boston got a lead they increased the forecheck pressure and won going away, the Flames get a lead and abandon the forecheck and hang on for the win. Maybe they have spent so long playing for the point that they cannot change but that is a formula for disaster in the playoffs.

  • Nighteyes

    Despite letting in 3 goals and that one gaffe I think Rittch deserves an honourable mention for Red Warrior. Some incredible saves in the 3rd period. It might be a bit early to say this, but I think he definitely has a future with us in a bigger role..and he’s 25 which means peak goaltending age hasn’t even arrived yet.

  • Justthateasy

    Looks like we need some goalie shooting practice. if you’re not good at something then you’d better stay after practice and practice practice practice.