44Mikael Backlund
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames chase Wings, manage to win

The Calgary Flames weren’t great on Friday night against the Detroit Red Wings. They didn’t get their first lead until late in the third period and they were chasing for much of the game. But they got three goals from their second power play unit and managed to eke out a 6-4 victory over Detroit.

The Rundown

The Flames opened the game with some jump, but got in penalty trouble due to some careless play with their sticks. They took successive three minors in the last seven minutes of the period, including giving the Red Wings 56 seconds of five-on-three time. Anthony Mantha’s wrist shot from the faceoff dot 21 seconds into that five-on-three hit Mike Smith and trickled over the line to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead.

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

The Flames started well in the second and a strong shift from the fourth line drew a penalty. The top power play unit couldn’t get organized, but the second power play cashed in. A Rasmus Andersson point shot was blocked out front of net and caused a bit of chaos that gave the Flames some chance to make quick passes. Sam Bennett buried a nice James Neal feed to tie the game at 1-1.

But the Red Wings retook the lead off a nice bit of cycling after they hemmed in the Flames in their own zone. Dylan Larkin’s wrister beat Smith short-side to make it 2-1.

The Flames answered back, though, as Johnny Gaudreau deftly threw a puck towards the crease and Sean Monahan redirected it over Jimmy Howard’s shoulder to make it a 2-2 hockey game.

Shots were 14-12 Flames and scoring chances 11-6 Red Wings in the second period.

The Red Wings re-took the lead early in the third period off the rush. Mike Green pinched and skated towards the Flames net, going forward to backhand and chipping a shot that beat Smith to make it 3-2 for Detroit. TJ Brodie didn’t look great defensively on the goal.

The Flames tied the game on another second unit power play goal. This time, Andersson’s point shot was deflected by Neal past Howard to make it 3-3.

But the Red Wings re-took the lead (again), as Gustav Nyquist held onto the puck on an aborted breakaway… but he drew Smith and the defenders over to him, leaving Dylan Larkin wide open for a pass and he deposited the puck into the wide-open net to give the visitors a 4-3 edge.

But as has become the custom, the Flames managed to tie the game while shorthanded. Mark Giordano’s shot off the rush was partially deflected by Larkin, causing a knuckleball shot that beat Howard to make it a 4-4 game.

After a brief period of four-on-four play, the Flames got another power play and the second unit got their third goal. This time, Bennett got a pass from Derek Ryan and drove the net, beating Howard top-corner to make it 5-4 Flames – giving them their first lead of the night.

Brodie added an empty-netter to make it a 6-4 final for the home side.

Shots were 14-11 Red Wings and chances 11-3 Red Wings in the third period.

Why the Flames Won

It’s oft-repeated that to win games, your best players have to be your best players. The Flames’ top defensive pairing was on the ice for three of Detroit’s four goals (and both in the penalty box for the other goal). That’s not great. When the team’s best pairing is that iffy defensively, it’s going to be a long night.

But despite all that, their special teams units managed to score four goals (three on the power play and one short-handed) and it made up for a lot of the team’s other deficiencies.

Red Warrior

Bennett had a pair of goals, so let’s give him the nod.

But also tip your collective hats to Andersson, who was very effective on the second power play unit, and Ryan, who drew two penalties and set up both the game-tying and game-winning goals.

The Turning Point

The Flames were chasing for this entire game. But then they scored two goals in 123 seconds – one short-handed, one on the power play – and managed to finally grab a lead. As we’ve seen this season, this is a dangerous team offensively when they have confidence. They found their confidence late, and that was the difference-maker.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
OZone
Start%
Game
Score
Hathaway 66.7 100 0.100
Tkachuk 65.2 66.7 1.775
Kylington 65.0 83.3 0.550
Ryan 64.3 100 1.760
Andersson 61.1 83.3 1.025
Lindholm 52.4 50.0 0.680
Brodie 50.0 38.9 1.225
Gaudreau 48.4 50.0 1.300
Monahan 48.4 46.7 0.835
Backlund 48.2 66.7 -0.010
Mangiapane 47.1 100 0.060
Giordano 46.0 50.0 0.375
Frolik 40.6 66.7 0.115
Hanifin 33.3 62.5 -0.325
Hamonic 32.5 100 -0.300
Neal 26.9 50.0 1.350
Bennett 25.0 66.7 1.650
Jankowski 23.8 66.7 -0.535
Smith 0.100
Rittich

This and That

Gaudreau’s assist extended his points streak to 10 games, tying a career high. The last time he went on a run, he had 19 points over 10 games from Oct. 27-Nov. 20, 2017.

The Flames are now 24-1-3 when entering the third period leading or tied.

Up Next

The Flames (31-13-5) fly to Edmonton tonight. They face the Oilers tomorrow night in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta.



  • aye

    Don’t understand the Smith haters, he actually had a pretty solid game, at least no worse than Rittich’s last few games. Sure, couple of the goals he gave up could have been saved, but that happens to everyone, BSD included, and they weren’t soft goals by any means.
    With the way the season has gone for Smith, it seems like he has to be perfect every night to win the fans, and every goal he gives up are magnified and dubbed soft goal. Why the bias and negativity? Smith made a couple of huge saves to preserve the lead late in the game, so please give credit where credit is due. BTW he is 8-1 in his last 9 starts, what else do you want from a backup?
    DET wants a first for Howard, was he better than Smith tonight?

    • ChuckyChuckyByngByng

      I very much second this. If we don’t see the fall ’17 Smith, the pitchforks come out pretty fast.

      He made some decent saves, made some timely saves and we won the game.

      What else do you want? ESPECIALLY from your back-up.

    • Flamesfanforever

      Bsd gave up 3 goals in 3 straight games in final min against Flordia, Chicago and Colorado. Also let in 3 straight shots in Buffalo game. Other than that he’s been lights out but closer to the end of a game is where bsd seems to have trouble. Smith seems more often than not struggle at beginning, plays fair for bit than let softy in 2nd period. When closing out a game thou a actually feel more comfortable with Smith in net for some odd reason

      • aye

        BSD actually got beat on 4 straight shots in the Buffalo game if you count the one Eichel beat him but put off the post in OT as well. But of course, if those were against Smith, fans would be ready to crucify him.
        Smith’s play still doesn’t instill confidence because he just seems so scrambly, but he has been pretty solid for quite awhile now, and hopefully will continue to build on it.

        • Off the wall

          The scoring chances were 27-13 in favour of the Wings. I might not be good at math, but that’s pretty lopsided.

          Smith did what was expected of him. It’s too bad we get caught up in SV%. I’m pretty sure Smiths .886 is better than Howard’s. 857 tonight.

          He won, Howard lost. End of story. We got 2 points, Wings got natta..

        • Flamesfanforever

          Exactly. No question BSD has been the better goalie of the two. That being said I’m less nervous with Smith closing out the last 10 min of a game. Not many back-ups go 9-2. I don’t think there is a better upgrade than Smith without selling the farm.

  • TheDallyLama

    Sportsnet calling Benny “the stache” lol love that, and what a game for this dude! Honourable mention to the real deal, buzzin all game, good to see him get on the scoresheet. ? great game boys!

  • Off the wall

    Andersson on 2nd unit PP is a must!

    Great job by our secondary line contributors! Ryan, Bennett and Neal- thank you!

    We love when you get in on the action..

  • Calgarycandle

    Another game that Smith nearly cost us. I will be very happy when this season ends and we have another 1B or a backup for Rittich. Neal is playing with more fire and Bennett looks like the guy we thought we drafted. I think he is blossoming under Peters. I’m coming to appreciate Ryan. Good on faceoffs and very defensively reliable even if he shouldn’t be on PP2. Slick pass to Bennett for the 5th goal.

    • Albertabeef

      He’s letting his inner Grant Fuhr flow. You know, allow lots of goals but win a cup anyways lol. It’s not about how many goals but when you allow them. If you can be awesome the first and last 10 minutes of a game and average the rest of the game and you have legendary scoring on your team you stand a good chance to win. 9 and 2 in his last 11 lol.

    • Mort

      I’ve noticed that Ryan has some wheels. Pay attention next time he’s skating through the neutral zone; I’ve been impressed with his speed and ability to move the puck into the O-zone.

  • Chucky

    When Smith is in net you can expect a couple of goals that are meh. It is a real testament to the coaching staff and team pride that they don’t let it get them down and just go out and score more than the other guys.

  • canadian1967

    “The moustache gives Sam Bennett a no-nonsense approach to scoring goals and celebrating. Or a lifetime of hitting posts and flubbing breakaways has taken the joy from his life.” ?
    C’mon Sammy, we’re all rooting for you.

    • Albertabeef

      I’m more worried about the teams on our tail than the ones in our dust. The Oilers position in the standings is a moot point when they at at the position they are at. I admit sometimes it’s fun to laugh at the Oilers but sometimes it feels like bullying a handicapped kid.

    • Burnward

      Blow em out 7-2 and just await the chia panic moves. Ooooooh it would be glorious.

      And even if they lose they’re still 16 points up.

      Edmonton fans got nothing. Again.

  • everton fc

    Didn’t get to see the game. Last time I looked at the score w/my son, it was 4-3, Wings.

    This year, you never think we’ll lose. You always think we’ll come back. And we generally do. Awesome.

    A few questions:

    1. How did Smith look? I can see his save percentage this evening, but how did he look?
    2. How did Mangiapane look? Seems he may not be ready??
    3. How did Kylington look??

    Good to hear Bennett have a huge night. He’s a keeper. Good to hear Ryan has such a good night – 2 assists! And to see Ryan get a goal and an assist… GO FLAMES!!

    • ChuckyChuckyByngByng

      Smith actually wasn’t too terrible overall despite the numbers, let in one or two that were iffy per usual, the first period definitely was his best period. Made a huge timely save in the third.

      Mangiapane looked okay, but still clearly gripping his stick too much. He had a beautiful chance early in the first that he went for top cheddar on but narrowly missed.

      Kylington didn’t really stand out too much this game, but that also means he didn’t have any bad giveaways that he’s been a bit guilty of this year. Overall not bad.

    • Albertabeef

      I turned on the radio with 10 minutes left to go in the game. The guys on the radio were saying the first D pair were having a bad game especially #7. I turned to my friend who isn’t really a hockey fan and said usually when he has a bad game he tries to redeem himself later in the game. A few minutes later he assists on the game winner and then hits an empty cage to seal the deal. What a Beaut. Here’s hoping LJ-Ryan-Neal keep it up

      • Cfan in Van

        Ya Brodie was kinda brutal, Gio was hustling but not tended to be running around trying to do everything. A less effective night for the top pair. They’ll bounce back.

  • Jourflamesfan

    Not exactly a satisfying victory but I’ll take it. ?
    Gotta be near perfect tomorrow if they want their first ever win in Edmonton’s new arena.
    Smith scares me. Could never count on him for a tight playoff game in the 3rd period.
    We need a better back up IMO.

  • FlamesFan27

    Thoughts this morning…
    1. Where did THAT Sam Bennett come from? If he can do that, we’ve got ourselves a second line.
    2. Neal looked pretty good, as did Ryan.
    3. Hamonic was very good. I don’t usually even notice him (that’s good a defenceman), but paid more attention to him tonight given his circumstances.
    4. First line was awful, including on the PP. I’ve haven’t seem them mishandle the puck so much as that; puck was bouncing a lot but it only seemed to be bouncing for them. Still got a nice goal in though.
    5. Smith made some good saves, but 2 goals were questionable. And he almost cost them 3 goals with his wandering.
    6. Not the standard formula, but a win is a win.
    7. Can’t wait for tonight’s game!

  • everton fc

    Stockton’s Finest:

    1. How did Gillies look?
    2. Seems Quine, Graovac and Rychel are ready for a look, in Calgary.
    3. Was this Hogstrom’s first game??

    Over and out!

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    This team is ready for a run. Tampa has faltered a bit here, the presidents trophy isn’t spoken for quite yet. If we add, let’s make it minor….. I think we should make a play for E. Staal….. I honestly don’t think it would cost to much…. put him between Byng and Neal. Run backs with Bennett and fro on our THIRD line…… oh my

    • Dr. Gonzo

      I like that idea. Staal would be a huge upgrade! Would improve the PP. Should come cheap, and only as a rental unless he is willing to resign at a cheap cheap contract.