77David Rittich
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames withstand Avalanche of shots

The Calgary Flames returned home from a successful road trip to host the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. The Flames were good early and good late, and they managed to withstand a barrage of shots from the Avalanche in the other 30 minutes. The Flames were good enough at key times to capture two big points, beating Colorado by a 5-3 score.

The Rundown

After an early Flames penalty kill, lines became a bit of a hodgepodge. Johnny Gaudreau stretched out to catch a James Neal pass and avoid an icing. Gaudreau, Neal, Mikael Backlund and Rasmus Andersson did a good job cycling the puck and winning battles. Gaudreau fed Neal out front and Semyon Varlamov made the initial stop, but Backlund buried the rebound to make it 1-0 Flames.

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A few minutes later the Flames doubled their lead. Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski caught the Avalanche sleeping in their own zone, which allowed the duo to skate into the slot and Jankowski to bury a Bennett feed low glove-side on Varlamov to make it a 2-0 Flames lead.

The Avalanche answered back before the end of the period amidst a comedy of errors by the Flames. David Rittich’s attempted outlet pass didn’t quite get out of the Flames zone. They did manage to get it out, but Sean Monahan’s pass bonked off Noah Hanifin (and Hanifin dropped his stick), leaving a lot of red sweaters watching as Gabriel Landeskog fed Nathan MacKinnon for a one-timer from the face-off dot that beat Rittich to make it a 2-1 Flames lead.

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Colorado tied things up late in the first, as the Flames had an odd-man rush broken up in the Avalanche end. Erik Johnson led a rush the other way and beat Rittich just inside the post on his stick-side to make it a 2-2 game.

Shots were 11-5 Avalanche and scoring chances were 9-8 Avalanche in the first.

The Flames were not good in the second period. They had a power play that had zero shots early in the period. They didn’t get their first shot until halfway through the period. They were hemmed into their own end several times. But they left the period with a lead.

Derek Ryan drew a penalty in the Avalanche zone and after a face-off win, Elias Lindholm beat Varlamov glove-side with a nice wrist shot to make it a 3-2 game. The shot was the first power play shot the Flames got and came 10 seconds into the man advantage.

Shots were 10-6 Avalanche and scoring chances were 8-6 Avalanche in the second.

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The Flames got out to a much better to start to kick off the third period and were rewarded. Michael Frolik was stopped on a scoring chance, but he went to work, won some puck battles down low, and eventually beat Varlamov to make it a 4-2 lead for the Flames, tipping in a point shot from Mark Giordano.

Colorado got one back, with Mikko Rantanen scoring on a bad-angle shot off the rush to make it 4-3 just after Gaudreau failed to score on an empty net. But that’s as close as the Avalanche got. Matthew Tkachuk scored on an empty net to make it a 5-3 victory for the Flames.

Shots were 14-5 Avalanche and chances 8-6 Avalanche in the third period.

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Why the Flames Won

The Flames weren’t great on this evening. But they were good enough when they were good and scored enough goals when they were carrying play to win. They had some trouble clearing their zone and occasionally struggled with Colorado’s speed on the rush, but they also occasionally connected on some really nice passing plays.

It’s also worth noting that Rittich was much better than Varlamov, which was enough of a difference-maker on its own to give the Flames a fighting chance.

Red Warrior

Rittich. He was their best player in the iffy middle section of this game.

The Turning Point

Lindholm’s power play goal was huge for the Flames. They hadn’t played very well in the second period and their first power play did very little to inspire confidence. But they got a key goal from a key player at a key time, and it was enough to put them over the top.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Brodie 57.9 16.7 1.700
Giordano 53.9 16.7 2.375
Backlund 53.1 10.0 1.370
Tkachuk 51.9 9.1 1.085
Frolik 50.0 12.5 1.285
Neal 48.2 n/a 0.775
Czarnik 45.5 50.0 0.225
Jankowski 42.9 n/a 1.010
Gaudreau 42.4 100 0.675
Andersson 36.4 100 -0.150
Prout 35.7 100 0.225
Bennett 35.0 n/a 0.675
Monahan 30.0 100 -1.060
Hamonic 29.7 75.0 -1.050
Ryan 27.3 33.3 0.410
Hanifin 26.5 75.0 -1.100
Lindholm 22.7 57.1 0.135
Hathaway 20.0 50.0 -0.175
Rittich 0.950

This and That

This was Gaudreau’s 20th multi-point game of the season and Giordano’s 13th multi-point game of the season.

The Flames are now 21-1-2 when entering the third period tied or leading.

Up Next

The Flames (28-13-4) practice tomorrow. They host the Florida Panthers at the ‘Dome on Friday night.

  • magoo sassybone

    Just because he got to PPG pace, I’m hoping you’ll indulge me in this. Gio isn’t going to win the Norris, he is Norris!
    Fact: Gio’s poke-checks have been known to rip a tear in the fabric of space-time
    Fact: the national anthems are played before hockey games because Gio likes the melodies
    Fact: People in China keep finding pucks when Gio goes bar down-ski

  • Stu Gotz

    MacKinnon and his coach were really going at it on the bench in the 3rd with MacKinnon telling him to do his job (lip reading was obvious). Look for a coaching firing shortly.

  • Garry T

    The Avalanche showed some weaknesses on the Flames Team.
    The Flames either are tired after that road trip, or the need to look in the mirror.

    The weakness situation.

    1. Press the Flames in their D zone and ….
    A. They panic
    B. In a race to the puck they lose 70 percent of those races in their zone.
    C. The gave the puck away 26 x off their sticks when they had control.
    A practice should dictate that Rittich give the puck behind/ beside the net
    to a player who has one thing on his mind. Keep control by carrying the
    Puck out of their zone. Again the number of giveaways was atrocious.

    If you are going to get rid of the puck due to pressure, make sure you
    have a guaranteed lane or breakout partner to get the puck to.
    D. At center ice take that extra step over the red line and zip the puck into
    their zone.
    E. The Flames create turn overs when they are on top of the opposition
    player. Get back to doing that
    F. They do not hit anymore. Hathaway started doing that late in the 3rd. A
    Little push here and there does no good. You need to nail people coming
    Into your Zone. You need to hit guys and take the puck off them all over
    the ice and we are not doing that.
    G. Our lack of size is going to hurt us. We are a small team. That will show
    Up in the playoffs.

    Sorry to roast the boys after a win, but the issues are there.

  • aye

    Flames haven’t played great lately, but are getting the bounces and key saves from Ritter, and are lucky to have a weak schedule right now, but they need to get back to playing good hockey soon if they want to keep their position atop the pacific, VGK and SJS have been really good and coming on hard.

  • KeepitReal

    This isn’t tenable but we’ll take the 2 points & move on. Ham + Han were on the ice for the first two goals against tonite. Ditto for previous game in Chi Town. So the Klingon gets yanked in favour of a Prout insertion?? Hey, I’m not coaching in the All Star game so I’ll shut up right now. I love Hanifin’s potential but his defensive game needs to me monitored & mentored by the vets / coaches.

  • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

    “Shots were 11-5 Avalanche and scoring chances were 9-8 Avalanche in the first.”

    Scoring chances were much closer than shots in this one. What a strange game by us. We actually didn’t play as bad as the shot count suggests, we just didn’t get actual shots on goal. We had some dangerous rushes and then we would pass way too much and on the opposite side Colorado basically three everything on goal all night hoping it would go in. In a logical world Colorado should have our shot us 26-24 or something like that.

    Mikko Rantanen looks like a stud though. What a game from him he was dangerous all night, still can’t believe he fell past NJ at 6th Overall his draft year.

    • Baalzamon

      It’s even weirder looking at high-danger chances. The Flames somehow won that count 5-4.

      On Rantanen. It’s incredible. Why did Jersey take Zacha? Why would anyone take Zacha that early? Provorov and Werenski make sense at least, and Meier had really good numbers in a familiar league.

      (yes I’m fully aware Zacha was ranked that high by consensus for some reason. I’ve just been arguing for four years that he shouldn’t have been).

  • Mickey O'Reaves

    Reaves, Ryan.
    So glad that BT didn’t go all in to secure his services.
    Only 8g/6a as a 4th liner with some PP time. No skills, can’t skate, and won’t fight anyone.
    His teammates and fans probably can’t stand him either.
    Phew. The analytics critters win another one.
    Rant on pause for now.

    • R4anders

      Reaves has 3 fights this year, deducting that from his total penalty minutes means he has 41 minutes of non fighting related pims. That would put him second on the flames, Bennett has better underlying stats, more points, fights more and makes less money. Nuclear Deterrents are an archaic option in today’s NHL. Reaves can play hockey and is more then just a goon but to suggest that he’d somehow make the second best team in the nhl better is laughable.you speak of analytics critters In a negative connotation but they’re absolutely correct. The flames advanced stats suggest that they are an elite team and the results back that up.

      • Baalzamon

        It amazes me that people still speak out in favor of enforcers. Remember that cheap shot McDavid took from Hampus Lindholm? He was playing on a line with Zack Kassian and Jujhar Khaira that night–for the express purpose of protecting him.

        It… uh… didn’t work.

        • Mickey O'Reaves

          Reaves could have double the points, and it would amaze me that the tired, “don’t-need-an-enforcer” mantra would still be trotted out. How about looking at the individual player, and the boatload of intangibles that he brings to his team, as well his contribution on the scoresheet.

          • R4anders

            Tough guys are always loved by teammates and fans, whats your point? It’s such an antiquated perspective, of course you need team toughness but the flames have no need for a player of Reaves ilk regardless of the “intangibles” he offers.
            The Flames aren’t getting bullied and by all accounts have a great locker room chemistry. My issue isn’t with Reaves, it’s with the suggestion he’d somehow improve a team that is amongst the best in the league.

          • Mickey O'Reaves

            @R4anders. My point? My bad, brah! Sounds like you’ve got everything figured out.
            Hockey fans could learn a lot from a non-antiquated smart fella like yourself.

        • R4anders

          You go on your rants and imply everyone else including the coaching staff are stupid for not trotting out some tough guy and you get all passive aggressive when I disagree? Lol. Get over yourself.

          • Mickey O'Reaves

            I know, I know. Any deviation from the analytics dogma taught at Corsi U. needs to be treated as potentially dangerous heresy!

            “You, complete me.”
            “Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at advanced stats.”

    • Rude

      I would have much preferred a Reaves Ryan on the roster rather than Ryan Derek. Everyone is on raggjng on James Neal but DR has been as soft as they come. I know Neal has the bigger cap hit and longer term but DR doesn’t have the track record to suggest he will turn it around.

      • R4anders

        Ryan is one of our best defensive forwards, drives possesion even though he almost always starts in the D-zone and is one of the best faceoff guys in the entire league. He’s worth every penny of his contract, you must not watch hockey.

  • cjc

    I don’t want to complain too much after a win, but when is the last time this team put together a complete 60 minutes. As Ari said previously, they keep playing down to their opponents.