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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames go the distance against Capitals

The Calgary Flames looked really bad on Thursday night at home. On Saturday afternoon they looked much better against the Washington Capitals, pushing the defending Stanley Cup champions to a shootout. They lost 4-3 in a very close contest.

The Rundown

The first period saw a few momentum swings in each direction. The Capitals were on their heels early but were opportunistic. The Flames cheated a bit on their assignments on a defensive zone breakout, resulting in a couple whiffed zone exits and a turnover inside their own blueline. That allowed Evgeni Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana to go in on an in-close two-on-one. Kuznetsov set up Vrana for a tap-in to make it 1-0 Capitals.

Later in the period, with Derek Ryan in the penalty box, Mike Smith made a save on Alex Ovechkin’s patented spot from the right side of the zone, but TJ Oshie drove the net and chipped in the rebound to make it 2-0. But on the very next shift, 14 seconds later, the Flames tied it up. Travis Hamonic drove the zone, made a pass to Sam Bennett and headed towards the net. Bennett passed to Johnny Gaudreau, who sent it to Hamonic for a deflection off his skate to make it 2-1.

Juuso Valimaki drew a penalty in the defensive zone and the Flames power play capitalized. They won the draw, made some nice passes, and then Elias Lindholm beat Pheonix Copley five-hole as he moved laterally to face Lindholm to make it 2-2. The goal was just nine seconds into the PP.

Shots were 10-9 Capitals, but chances were 7-6 Flames.

The second period was more buttoned-down defensively, but both teams got power play opportunities. The Capitals got a big scoring chance after they killed off a penalty, but Smith made a big save on an Oshie breakaway immediately afterwards to keep the game tied.

But the Capitals got one late, as Matt Niskanen’s point shot beat Smith through a couple layers of traffic – including Dmitrij Jaskin right in front – to make it 3-2. Shots were 8-6 Capitals and chances were 9-6 Capitals.

The Capitals seemed content to clog up the neutral zone and ice the puck when they got into any defensive zone trouble in the third period. The Flames pressed and pulled the goaltender with 2:31 remaining and were rewarded. Rasmus Andersson’s shot from the point was redirected by Matthew Tkachuk to tie the game at 3-3 with 1:27 left in regulation.

The Flames generated a late power play but couldn’t score in regulation. Shots were 11-8 Flames and chances were 5-5.

Much of overtime was played at four-on-four following a brief Flames power play. Both teams got good looks, but neither managed to score so it went to a shootout. Johnny Gaudreau scored for the Flames but Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington to win it.

Why the Flames Got A Point

The Flames played smart hockey for the most part and got pretty good goaltending, but they were still a bit too leaky defensively against a team with enough offensive weaponry to make teams pay for any gaffes. And when they trailed, they didn’t cheat their defensive responsibilities enough to give the Capitals too many additional chances.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with Gaudreau, who had assists on both of Calgary’s goals this afternoon. But Smith made some big saves and Dillon Dube had oodles of scoring chances, including one that hit the post midway through the third period.

The Turning Point

Tkachuk’s late goal, tipping Andersson’s low point shot, managed to secure the Flames a point in a game that they trailed for most of the duration.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Neal 66.7 57.1 0.485
Hanifin 62.9 50.0 0.750
Lindholm 60.0 62.5 1.045
Dube 58.3 80.0 0.335
Hamonic 58.1 50.0 1.400
Czarnik 52.9 40.0 -0.015
Tkachuk 47.1 50.0 0.750
Backlund 45.5 28.6 -0.105
Andersson 44.4 66.7 0.600
Monahan 41.2 100 0.795
Bennett 38.2 77.8 -0.250
Valimaki 38.1 66.7 -0.050
Gaudreau 37.1 100 0.950
Ryan 33.3 40.0 -0.280
Frolik 33.3 50.0 -0.025
Brodie 33.3 69.2 -0.525
Giordano 30.8 69.2 0.900
Hathaway 30.0 40.0 -0.200
Smith 0.150

This and That

James Neal was blasted along the boards from behind by Nic Dowd in the first period. He left the bench for a little bit for evaluation, but stayed in the game.

By playing in his 10th NHL game, Valimaki’s entry-level deal began to kick in tonight. He joins Filip Chytil (Ottawa), Rasmus Dahlin (Buffalo), Maxime Comtois (Anaheim), Henri Jokiharju (Chicago) and Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina) as young players that could’ve seen their deals slide but have ended up playing 10+ NHL games this season.

As has become tradition, Bill Peters shuffled the deck a bit while trailing in the third period:

  • Gaudreau – Monahan – Tkachuk
  • Dube – Backlund – Czarnik
  • Bennett – Lindholm – Neal
  • Frolik – Ryan – Hathaway

Up Next

The Flames (5-5-1) practice tomorrow, then hop on a plane to Toronto. They visit the Maple Leafs on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena.

  • Eggs Bennett

    A bit disappointed with the loss. Why is Gaudreau so not clutch in shootouts/breakaways? Also really happy with Lindholm’s right handed shot and ability to win key face-offs especially late in the third with the net empty.

    • Getpucksdeep

      I think its simply because he too small and hasn’t got the rangyness to pull a goalie from side to side. Wide open, one on one his passing/vision skills don’t translate like they do in traffic. I thought Neal wasted his shot attempt. Still nice to see a power play goal and nice to see a goal with the goalie pulled.

  • JoelOttosJock

    C’mon Pike..Smith as honorable mention to warrior of the game? You need to watch objectively. He should have stopped the third goal. Period. Also the rebound goal. Dube, Lindholm, and Bennett were the best Flames.

    • FlushedOut

      You’ve obviously never played a game in goal in your life. How are you supposed to stop a puck you can’t see because a guy is standing right in front of your face

      • Flint

        Wrong. You LOOK for the puck. Smith is heavily to fault on that goal. Lazy goalies don’t work to find pucks. Smith is tracking bodies right now and not pucks… this is super common, happens to all goalies on shots – they align to the body not the puck which is a meter to the left or right of the body. It also happens on screens, and the goalie positions himself right behind the player – head and all, because that’s where his feet should be. Look around the player and keep your eye on the puck. I’d rather a goalie slightly off-balance (leaning) who can see the puck, than a goalie who’s totally square and balanced but has no idea where the puck is.

        That shot was a muffin from long range. If Smith saw it he could have stayed on his feet and caught it easily. Instead he didn’t fight to see it, dropped to his knees and hoped. Hope doesn’t make saves. Flames lose.

        #1 rule of goaltending (and almost the paradox of goaltending) – don’t get out of the way of the puck as that’s exactly the opposite of what your trying to do.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    This October was a killer for us.. But man we going to get crushed by the Real Deal Neal for years,plzzz no more ufa signing , play Janko, Mang or even Foo then Neal and soon add Ryan to that list..

    • Flaming moe

      Unfortunately we now have only 2 choices going forward with the deminishing Neal. He has to play in the top 6 or you buy him out. That’s it. You can’t pay a guy 6 mill to play in your bottom six when the only thing he brings to the table is a shot. How brutal if this is the first year he doesn’t get 20 goals in his career. We paid for past performances unfortunately. BT miscalculated this signing.

    • Luter 1

      Not sure why all the “trash it’s” Neal has looked totally his age plus a decade and Ryan has shown absolutely zip, small, minimal tenacity, not sure why Rebar thought he was an add to this squad? Czarnik a career 6 goals yet to prove we should sit Jankowski. Thank goodness Lindholm is a gem because the rest of our pickups have been less than impressive and BT could be looking for a job by Christmas if they don’t have a major turnaround. Even today’s game, really not the intensity I expected after being crap kicked by the Penguins.

  • Off the wall

    Lindholm was a beast on faceoff’s in the late stages of the game. He won 3 consecutive draws which lead to the Tkachuk goal.

    How can you not love Lindholm?! Even though he played on the 3rd line and still contributed.

  • Korcan

    Bennett looked real good on top line — he seemed to give Mony a bit of a spark. The Dube, Lindholm, Neal line also looked good together, but man, when is Dube going to get that first goal? Actually, I really like this current forward configuration. I think Czarnik gives the Backlund line a little more offensive threat, then switch him out for Frolik when facing teams (i.e.Edmonton) where you need an elite shutdown line. Even the fourth line played well together.

    Negatives: top line still lacking when in defensive zone; also, Brodie blowing the d-zone early on the first goal was pretty brutal (but other than that he played okay); Andersson, however, is the much better option with Gio on pp.

    Brodie is beginning to remind me a lot of Justin Schultz in his last season in Edmonton — he has skill, but is playing like he has no confidence whatsoever. The result is he is making a lot of mistakes that he likely wouldn’t make if he was feeling good about his game. For his sake, and the team’s, i hope he can soon get his confidence and his game back.

  • BendingCorners

    I think shootout attempts produce more goals when the skater uses speed and lateral movement to make the goalie move. Faking once and going to the backhand might help too.

    • FlushedOut

      Good point. Johnny needs to skate with speed in shootouts. He scores on breakaways in games because he is skating full speed but always slows down for shootouts and rarely scores in them.

  • BendingCorners

    Neal doesn’t do much. Not sure how many 30+ UFA BT has signed but I can think of three, one bad, one looking bad, and one iffy. Might be something to avoid in future.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Under Gully it was practically a guaranteed win with 4 on 4 OT. Now no. Applaud the boys all you want but they left a point on the table as well as fell a point behind the hated Oilers. Not much cheer here, esp with the Leafs and the new and improved Sabres upcoming. My guess is that most of the Flames with Ontario connections will piss it up mightily with friends and family during this trip, so these next two matches could be plug ugly.

  • Ben.

    Turing point could’ve been Hamonics quick goal. Some Flames are fragile and the longer they were down 2-0 to defending cup champs the longer it would’ve played on their minds…the tighter they’d hold their sticks…”what if we go down 3-0….fans will boo…Smith gets pulled”
    BUT bang ! 2-1, Woohoo we’re in it, game on!

  • Off the wall

    Here’s some interesting stuff.

    Guess who has ZERO hits 5 vs 5 in 10 games? No it’s not Gaudreau, he is credited with 2 hits.
    It’s Monahan and Brodie. Zero.
    How do you possibly get no hits in 10 games? Rhetorical.

    Best forwards for hitting 5 vs 5.
    (Order of best)
    Hathaway, Bennett, Tkachuk, Neal and Lindholm. After that the hit -fest drops dramatically.

    We jest about shooter tutors, however do you think it would help to have a shoulder simulator.. you know teach players how to shoulder check?

    Watch tonight’s replay of Trouba on Matthews. Clean shoulder check- Matthews unfortunately left the game. But what a HIT.

    • Puck Head

      Not sure who trashed you or why but probably a figure skating enthusiast or Thunder. You will never win a championship with guys who hide. Mony is soft and we a know that. It would be better (albeit not acceptable) if he rode shotgun with a couple of big a’holes.

      But how the heck can a Dman have no hits in 10 games? He’s probably been hit at least 5 times again.

      I’m old school and want a skilled team who presses the opposition and pummels the brown stuff out of them.

      Our team is built for a European ice surface.

    • calgaryfan

      always knew Monahan was soft but I never thought he was that bad. i think the Flames coaches and management let him do whatever he likes as long as he was scoring. they should have been teaching him how to play a 200 ft game. gave him the “A” too soon. he has become totally reliant on Johnny but now Johnny has Lindholm, who seems to be getting open on the pp.

  • Toma41

    Backlund should have about 10 goals right now from all the chances he has gotten. Hes missed about 5 open nets alone. Put him on a line with 2 more defensive minded players and let Tkachuk loose on a line with Gaudreau and Lindholm. Move Monahan down.

  • Toma41

    How impressed is everyone with Ras?! 5 hits this game, an assist, and he could have scored a couple with some luck. Thats 5 more hits than Monahan, by the way, in 6 less minutes of playing time.

  • Toma41

    Lindholm is the better all around player over Monahan. The chemistry between him and Gaudreau is great and only getting better. Sooner than later Monahan will be a thing of the past once Johnny starts feeding the puck more to Lindholm. Anyone notice how terrible and slow Monahans skating is when he tries to enter a offensive zone? After 4 surgeries he has only gotten worse. Gaudreau, Lindholm, Tkachuk. That should be our first line.

  • Pete80

    This team has done really well with deep drafting, okay with trades, and has picked up nothing but albatrosses in free agency. The scouting is good, quit panicking about needing to win and just build through the draft. I’d be very okay to see them completely out of the free agency game