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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames pass their do-over against Canucks

The Calgary Flames got their second crack at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Despite falling behind three times in the game, the Flames kept battling back and a special teams outburst gave them a 7-4 victory in the home-opener.

The Rundown

The Flames opened the scoring 12 seconds into the game. Off a Canucks icing, Sean Monahan won the draw and TJ Brodie’s point shot was redirected by Elias Lindholm (for his first as a Flame) to make it 1-0.

The Canucks responded, though, as Noah Hanifin lost his stick in the Flames end, beginning a weird sequence where several Flames exchanged sticks. Amidst this chaos the Canucks had a few nice scoring chances, ending with Elias Pettersson with a tap-in of a Nikolai Goldobin pass to the slot to make it 1-1.

With the Flames on a man advantage Vancouver capitalized again: James Neal couldn’t snag a loose puck inside the Canucks zone, allowing Brandon Sutter to zoom in on a two-on-one against Brodie. Brodie played the pass, so Sutter shot it and beat Mike Smith five-hole to make it 2-1 for the visitors.

But the Flames answered back 30 seconds later, three seconds after their power play expired, as Mark Giordano’s wrister wobbled past Jacob Markstrom to make it 2-2.

Shot were 9-5 Flames and scoring chances 11-5 Flames.

Vancouver responded to the Flames’ late first period marker with an early goal in the second period on a man advantage. With Dalton Prout in the box, Smith made an initial toe save on a Vancouver chance but the rebound was booted out to Alex Edler at the point, who shuffled it to Pettersson for a no-doubt one-timer to make it 3-2 Vancouver.

The Flames finally broke their power play goose-egg off a weird sequence. Well, a couple of them. First, Matthew Tkachuk appeared to score on a goal-mouth scramble with Derek Ryan mucking around the crease area. The officials discussed it and allowed the goal, but Vancouver challenged on the basis of goalie interference and the goal was waved off by the Situation Room in Toronto. 61 seconds later, Sean Monahan’s initial shot on Markstrom was stopped but Gaudreau buried the rebound to make it a 3-3 deadlock.

But the Canucks responded (again) on the power play. With Giordano and Michael Stone in the box and the Canucks with a 44 second five-on-three advantage, Pettersson found Bo Horvat on Smith’s doorstep for an easy redirect to give the visitors a 4-3 lead.

Shots were 17-7 Flames and chances 11-4 Flames.

The Flames managed to even things up (again) in the third period on a power play. Gaudreau held onto the puck as his teammates got into position, skated deep into the zone, then found Monahan with a cross-zone pass for a top shelf redirect to make it 4-4.

A little bit later in the period, Goldobin took a penalty and Gaudreau this time found Lindholm with a cross-ice pass for a wrist shot goal – the third power play goal of the game – to give the Flames a 5-4 lead.

Austin Czarnik and Michael Frolik each added an empty netters to give the locals some breathing room (and a 7-4 victory). Shots were 11-8 Flames and chances were 5-3 Flames.

Why the Flames Won

They won the special teams battle, with their three power play goals and (empty net) shorthanded goal surpassing Vancouver’s pair of power play markers and a shorthanded goal. When you win the special teams battle, and your even strength play isn’t awful, you’ll win a lot of hockey games.

But more importantly, the Flames showed some resiliency. We’ve seen plenty of examples in the recent past of the Flames getting a bad break – self-inflicted wounds or otherwise – and crumbling under the pressure. Tonight they kept battling until the Canucks couldn’t answer back.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with Lindholm, who had a pair of goals (including the game-winner). But there are a lot of stick-taps to go around: five other Flames had multi-point nights, and Tkachuk had four assists.

The Turning Point

Monahan’s game-tying goal midway through the third period really gave the Flames some life, and seemingly gave them the fuel to keep battling. The goals just started flowing from there.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
OZone
Start%
Game
Score
Czarnik 80.8 55.6 1.760
Backlund 79.2 50.0 1.230
Valimaki 76.0 62.5 0.850
Tkachuk 75.0 50.0 2.925
Prout 61.3 71.4 0.225
Stone 60.9 57.1 0.325
Jankowski 60.0 33.3 0.265
Gaudreau 57.1 50.0 3.025
Bennett 57.1 25.0 0.050
Brodie 56.0 35.7 1.900
Monahan 55.2 50.0 2.005
Giordano 53.9 33.3 2.600
Lindholm 51.7 50.0 2.725
Neal 47.8 55.6 0.375
Hanifin 45.4 50.0 -0.125
Ryan 36.4 41.7 -0.340
Dube 36.4 55.6 -0.235
Frolik 33.3 33.3 0.675
Smith -1.400
Rittich

This and That

Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki, playing their first game at home, didn’t hit the scoresheet but generally looked quite good.

Elsewhere

D’Artagnan Joly had a goal in Baie-Comeau’s big 3-2 win over the powerhouse Halifax Mooseheads. In the AHL, the Stockton Heat led 2-0, 4-2 and 5-4, but ended up losing 6-5 in overtime to the Ontario Reign. Spencer Foo had two goals and an assist in the loss.

Up Next

The Flames are off tomorrow, then hit the road to prepare for a game on Tuesday evening against the Nashville Predators down in Music City.

    • Poho

      Gaudreau is such an insanely good passer that you could put a left shooting RW on his line and they’d connect for lots of points over the season, but adding that right shot just makes the line so much harder to defend against. Johnny Hockey is going to shine this year.

    • cberg

      On the PP they are starting to learn multiple zone entry strategies and once in hoe to manipulate the box to open up great chances. It is great to see their practicing paying off.

  • Mickey O'Reaves

    The team showed some resiliency to come back, and never really hung their heads.
    Great to see The Dalton Prout take effect!!! Yes siree!! Made all the difference in the world!

      • LannyMac

        Great to see Prout on the ice much more value than watching Valimaki play shinny. That kid is afraid to break a fingernail. Can’t watch that sh!t in a contact sport. Makes me want to loose my dinner stay home and play fort nite Vali

        • Zesty14

          How can you complain about vali. Rookie kid in his second nhl game. He’s 3rd line playing sheltered mins. Something to make me lose my dinner is JH on the forecheck. Love the kid he’s amazing at what he does. Have to close my eyes when JH is chasing a dump in, and have my wife tell me when it’s over. Just embarrassing.

    • Getpucksdeep

      We had company and just saw bits of it. It sure looked like Smith may have found his mojo somewhere in the 3rd period. He like the rest of them can build on a win. It’ll still be a few games before everything clicks. Other teams are experiancing early technical difficulties as well.

    • LannyMac

      Gave props to Ferland in his first game but I have to admit Ferland never gave as strong a performance as Lindholm last night good to see. On a related note so nice to see Hanifin play well in his own zone something Hamilton couldn’t get through his bleeping scull. I believe as the year goes by Hanifin will become more dangerous on the offensive side. I thought Stone had a solid game good on him.

  • Jobu

    Jobu was at game with his father Ronu. What an exciting game to see. Team looked great most game except for Smith. Made one fantastic save but a couple of weak ones in. Jobu thinks he might not be a good low-volume goaltender.

  • flames2015

    Bennett and Janko with only 7 mins of ice time tonight. Ryan hasn’t shown much on the pp or pk in my opinion. Would rather see a 3rd line of Bennett, Janko and Neal.

      • Just.Visiting

        Although I think that Ryan brings much more to the table than Brouwer, the usage at the expense of a Janko and Bennett is illogical. Start by moving them to the second unit PP.

    • Just.Visiting

      If we’re trying to do more than be a bubble team, Janko and Bennett need to be moved up and Ryan and Dube need to be moved down. While both can play up as need arises due to injuries, etc., they don’t offer the upside at this stage. Although my first preference would be to see Janko with Byng and Neal as a 2A line and Backlund with Bennett and ? on a 2B line, the line you note works for me and would see Neal perhaps a bit more engaged.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        You need to give players you trust time. So far it has been top line, 2M+C line and Dube’s line. Of those three lines, Backlund was the worst. High danger chances and the puck dies on his stick. For the most part, Backs
        was good on the PK. Byng was benched for some time due to the dumb penalty.

        Bennett and company need to earn more ice time. Simple as that. If he’s playing better than Dube, swap the players. If Janko is playing better than Ryan, swap the players. You can;t just give Neal 10 minutes.

        • cberg

          Iyt was great to see Tkachuk benched for minutes in the third after that penalty. He was playing great but keeping the players accountable is going to go much further ….

    • The Doctor

      The definition of a doormat team in today’s NHL is totally different from what it was 20-30 years ago. There are no guaranteed wins in today’s NHL. Vancouver has lots of really good players.

      • Speed Kills

        To start with… Vancouver has a very good coach, after that they have the New and Shinny Pettersson then Horvat and Boeser (IF he can rebound). Up and coming Motte, Goldobin and Leipsic After than its kind of OK with Baertschi, Beagle, Sutter, Schaller ,Edler and injured Roussel.
        Markström seems to be either lights out or gets lit up depending on the night…
        After the adrenaline dies down in a month, I believe we will see a less energetic and more mistake prone Canucks team emerge. But these guys will be pretty scary to play in 2-3 years.

        • FlushedOut

          Canucks always come out like gangbusters to start but once the injuries start happening the lack of organizational depth in the minors kills them. That’s what happens if you don’t have some NHL ready players down in the AHL for those of you always wanting to trade all of our veteran players so you bring up every prospect from the AHL.

  • BendingCorners

    I was at both games – thank you Westjet. The Flames played the same way both nights but on Saturday the puck ended up in the Vancouver net more often.
    They still need to work on their timing together.
    James Neal looked both nights like somebody who had never seen a bouncing puck before. Disappointing so far.
    Smith looked bad for 5 periods it finally made some good saves in the 3rd tonight. Maybe he is dialed in again?
    Hockey is supposed to be a contact sport – the Flames should be hitting more and pokechecking less.
    Tkachuk is elite.

    • The Doctor

      I was at the game on Wednesday. I thought we looked better tonight, but I agree that some of the same problems were there. Also both nights Vancouver played a classic defensive, obstructionist keep-em-to-the-perimeter style very well. But we were way smarter, or way less dumb, on the power play.

    • LannyMac

      @ bending corners, good post this team excelled at shinny last year. When the going got tough they folded. I know I will get trashed for that but before you do I suggest you take a good look at film from last year. Hope that trend doesn’t continue this year. I’m guessing they have coach that knows how to deal with that scenario.

    • HOCKEY83

      “James Neal looked both nights like somebody who had never seen a bouncing puck before” what does it mean to look like you’ve never seen a bouncing puck?

  • Getpucksdeep

    Company last night game on in background. Did Brodie play as well as it appears from the line score? Did see much of 3rd and Smith looked like he MAY be dialing in finally? Pretty clear Johnny/Mony and Lindholm will be a unit for the next while.