101Mark Giordano
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames edge Avalanche in wild one

The Calgary Flames returned home from a successful road trip where they played some stingy, low-scoring hockey. They played similarly on Thursday night and beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-5 in a wild, high-scoring game.

The Rundown

Neither team scored in the opening frame, but aside from a few good chances from the Avalanche top line it was arguably the Flames’ best period of the season. They occasionally dominated at five-on-five, including two very long offensive zone sequences for the fourth line – one was long enough they were able to switch up both defensemen without the puck leaving the zone. Shots were 13-4 Flames and scoring chances were 8-5 Flames.

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The second frame did not go well for the Flames. On an early power play Matthew Tkachuk bobbled the puck, leading to a two-on-two rush the other way. Vladislav Kamenev decided to shoot and his shot found its way through Mike Smith to make it 1-0 Avalanche. The Avalanche struck again 1:50 later, as Sheldon Dries tipped a Tyson Barrie shot from the point. The tip ricocheted off Smith, off Rasmus Andersson’s skate and into the net to make it 2-0.

The Flames answered back, though, as a nice effort by Mark Giordano to pinch and push the puck below the goal line allowed Matthew Tkachuk to grab the puck and feed Mikael Backlund with a pass from behind the net to make it 2-1.

But Colorado struck two more times before the end of the period. Ian Cole flipped the puck into the Flames zone (over Travis Hamonic’s head) and Dries beat Hamonic to the puck. Noah Hanifin cheated in from the slot to support Hamonic, and that allowed Dries to find Colin Wilson sneaking into the slot for a tap-in into a wide-open net to make it 3-1. A neutral zone turnover late in the period led to a Carl Soderberg shot squirting through Smith’s pads to make it 4-1 Avalanche.

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Shots were 13-11 Flames and chances 10-6 Flames in the second period.

The Flames opened the third period with some urgency on their power play and were rewarded. An Elias Lindholm point shot – with Tkachuk parked in front of Varlamov – found its way in to cut things to a 4-2 deficit.

Sean Monahan won a faceoff for the fourth line and then headed to the net. He tipped Noah Hanifin’s shot and it squeaked through Varlamov to make it a 4-3 hockey game.

Juuso Valimaki stepped into Matt Calvert to dislodge the puck, which was grabbed by Johnny Gaudreau and fed to James Neal for a one-timer from the slot to make it a tied game at 4-4.

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The Flames took the lead as Giordano found himself alone in the Avalanche zone, called for the puck and beat Varlamov with a wrister to make it 5-4 Flames.

The home side extended their lead to 6-4 after Tkachuk fed Michael Frolik on a two-on-one rush to make it 6-4.

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The Avalanche answered back on a late power play (with the goalie pulled), with Gabriel Landeskog jamming in a loose puck during a goalmouth scramble to make it 6-5. But that was as close as the Avalanche got and the Flames held on for the win. Shots were 12-11 Avalanche, but scoring chances were 12-5 Flames.

Why the Flames Won

The team got themselves into trouble, and the team got themselves out of it.

They made mistakes on the first four goals and they didn’t get the goaltending to bail them out of those mistakes. But they kept playing their game, kept pressing, and eventually the dam burst in the third period.

Red Warrior

Several Flames had good games, but let’s go with the captain. Giordano was superb in the game, especially in the third period when the team began to press. He ended the night with four points.

The Turning Point

Let’s go with the Neal goal. The game was tilting towards the Flames at that point, but Valimaki’s hit was seemingly the answer to Ian Cole’s hit (see below), except clean, and it led to a huge goal. It’s rare to see rookies with the situational awareness to know when to pinch, but Valimaki played it perfectly and it swung the game.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Jankowski 78.6 0.0 0.575
Backlund 77.3 54.6 2.580
Hanifin 75.8 25.0 1.650
Bennett 75.0 75.0 0.510
Tkachuk 73.7 50.0 3.100
Hathaway 73.3 n/a 0.325
Neal 71.4 0.0 1.325
Frolik 71.4 54.6 1.875
Hamonic 69.7 40.0 0.875
Ryan 68.0 50.0 1.125
Dube 68.0 40.0 0.450
Giordano 67.7 53.9 4.475
Brodie 62.9 50.0 1.300
Andersson 56.5 62.5 0.150
Monahan 53.3 71.4 1.770
Gaudreau 51.4 57.1 1.100
Lindholm 50.0 45.5 1.105
Valimaki 45.5 62.5 0.575
Smith -1.650

This and That

This is the Flames’ first win in their “regular” red home sweaters in four tries. Their next retro sweater game is Nov. 16 against the New York Rangers.

After a big hit on Mark Jankowski after the 4-1 goal, Sam Bennett jumped in and fought Ian Cole. Cole got tossed, Bennett got the instigator and Jankowski briefly left the game. He was on the bench but didn’t hit the ice in the third period, while Bennett came back and played one third period shift after serving his penalties.

The Flames held Colorado to just eight high-danger scoring chances – out-chancing them 19-8 in the high-danger areas. It’s the fourth consecutive game they’ve held their opponents to fewer than 10 high-danger chances (per Natural Stat Trick); they’re 3-0-1 in that span.

Up Next

The Flames (8-5-1) practice tomorrow, then are back in action in Hockey Night in Canada’s late Saturday game when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.