Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Flames bury Avalanche

For one reason or another, the Calgary Flames seemingly haven’t had every part of their game going at once. If their power play has heated up, often it’s coincided with some shoddy penalty killing. Or if one forward line got some momentum another one would fall into an abyss of mediocrity. After a slow start, the Flames ended up having a pretty strong all-around game on Saturday afternoon as they pushed their way to a 5-1 home ice victory over the visiting Colorado Avalanche.

The Rundown

The home side did something that they haven’t done in weeks: they scored first. Just 18 seconds in, Michael Frolik collected a pass from Mikael Backlund, skated around the Colorado net, and then spun and fired it between Semyon Varlamov’s legs to make it 1-0.

The Flames made it 2-0 on a very smart individual play by Matthew Tkachuk. Tkachuk tried to speed past a Colorado defender but didn’t have the wheels. He stopped and found Backlund entering the zone as the trailing man into the zone, and then he fed it to Mark Giordano on an odd-man rush for a one-timer to make it 2-0.

Colorado got one back late, though, and it was a weird one. Nathan MacKinnon dumped the puck into the Flames’ zone. The puck clanged off the goal-post behind Jon Gillies, bounced off Gillies’ backside, and trickled across the line to make it 2-1. Shots were 14-6 Colorado, but chances were 10-7 Flames.

The Flames got some solid contributions from their special teams early in the second which pushed them in a positive direction. With Brett Kulak in the box, the Flames killed off a very active (and scary-looking) Avalanche power play. Just after that kill, Johnny Gaudreau drew a penalty and on the ensuing man advantage Sean Monahan deflected a Michael Stone point shot past Varlamov to extend the lead to 3-1.

Shots were 10-9 Colorado, but chances were 5-4 Flames.

The lead was extended to 4-1 early in the third period. On a broken play, Garnet Hathaway beat out an Avalanche defender for a loose puck. Then he waited and found Travis Hamonic wandering into the zone with a pass, then Hamonic found Matt Stajan, who set up Troy Brouwer with a nice pass. Brouwer waited out the Avalanche coverage and sniped a goal top-corner on Varlamov.

Backlund added a power play goal with five minutes left in the third to make it 5-1. Shots and scoring chances were 11-4 Flames.

Why The Flames Won

The locals were just a little bit better than Colorado in every game situation, even after a bit of a slow start. They were able to bury their chances (and got better goaltending from Gillies than the Avs did from Varlamov), and generated high-quality chances (and more of them) than the Avalanche. It wasn’t a one-sided drubbing, but it was a good effort from a Flames club that looks like it’s slowly regaining its confidence with the puck.

Red Warrior

It’s a joint award for the entire 3M Line. Backlund had three points, but Tkachuk and Frolik were both excellent and helped carry the mail for the team early on when they were trying to find their footing.

The Turning Point

Special teams can swing a game, it they swung this game. The big penalty kill early in the second was followed by a big power play goal a few minutes later. That gave the Flames a two-goal lead and some breathing room, and they gained confidence from there.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Frolik 64.9 50.0 1.525
Tkachuk 63.6 50.0 1.925
Jankowski 63.0 66.7 0.410
Backlund 62.9 50.0 3.005
Brodie 61.4 53.9 2.025
Mangiapane 60.0 60.0 0.250
Hamonic 59.2 53.9 1.050
Hamilton 58.6 20.0 0.400
Bennett 58.6 42.9 0.390
Monahan 56.5 37.5 1.275
Giordano 56.3 25.0 1.100
Gaudreau 56.0 42.9 0.675
Hathaway 55.0 62.5 0.525
Stone 45.0 83.3 0.800
Lazar 44.4 33.3 0.075
Kulak 40.0 100 -0.125
Stajan 31.3 25.0 0.625
Brouwer 28.6 25.0 1.385
Gillies 2.050


This and That

Dougie Hamilton got a puck in the face during a second period power play – the puck rimmed around the glass and caught him in an vulnerable position – but he returned for the third period and didn’t seem any worse for wear.

Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan had some praise for Andrew Mangiapane (and his whole line), noting that they played a very direct, simple game and played the puck forward while playing primarily against Colorado’s second and third lines.

The Drive to 96 (Points)

The Flames now have 73 points with 19 games remaining. They need 23 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 11-7-1 record to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (32-22-9) are off tomorrow. They skate on Monday morning, then jet off to Dallas for the first half of a back-to-back on Tuesday night against the Stars.