71Sean Monahan
Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames eke out win over Senators

The battle between the Brothers Tkachuk was the marquee attraction of Sunday night’s game between the Calgary Flames and the Ottawa Senators. But it was the Flames’ depth players that elevated them to a 2-1 victory in Canada’s capital city.

The Rundown

The Flames were energetic early and got on the board early. Sam Bennett forced a turnover with a hit, dislodging the puck and allowing him to feed to Mikael Backlund. Backlund’s wrister from the slot beat Craig Anderson to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.

It looked like they doubled their lead shortly thereafter, as Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk went in on a two-on-one. Tkachuk’s shot was stopped, but he swiped the puck as Anderson attempted to cover it and put it in the net. The goal initially counted, but it was challenged and called back due to goaltender interference – the rationale from the league’s review was that the puck had been covered.

Shots were 13-11 Flames in the first and scoring chances 7-5 Flames.

The Flames pressed and pressed and pressed in the second period but couldn’t bury their chances. A rough shift for Sean Monahan’s line turned into a rough line change, allowing Brady Tkachuk to sneak behind the defense and beat David Rittich with a breakway chance to tie the game at 1-1.

Shots were 10-7 Flames and chances 9-5 Flames in the middle period.

It was deja vu all over again in the third period. Again, the Flames pressed and pressed. Again, Ottawa seemed to score. But the scoring play – Bobby Ryan jamming in a loose puck on a power play after Rittich had the puck knocked out of his glove while freezing it – was basically identical to the goal that the Flames had taken away. So the Flames challenged and the goal was overturned with the same explanation from the league: Rittich had the puck.

This game seemed destined for overtime, but after Anthony Duclair hit the post at one end, Austin Czarnik beat Anderson glove-side with a backhand shot with just 41 seconds left to give the Flames a 2-1 lead… and the victory.

Shots were 12-5 Flames and chances 10-4 Flames in the third.

Why the Flames Won

If not for Anderson, this game wouldn’t have been close. The Flames out-worked, out-hustled and out-chanced the Senators pretty consistent in this game. Shots were 35-23 and chances were 27-14. Aside from being a bit too cute with the puck in the offensive zone, the Flames were full mark.

Once again, they were elevated in a close game by their depth players.

Red Warrior

A tip of the hat to Bennett, who was crashing, banging, and hustling in all three zones. Playing with Backlund and Tkachuk, he was the best player on his line and for the Flames overall.

Honourable mention to Rittich, who only allowed one goal in his first start in awhile.

The Turning Point

Czarnik’s late goal saved the Flames from the white-knuckle moments of overtime.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Natural Stat Trick)

Player Corsi
Hanifin 64.7 70.0 0.800
Ryan 62.5 66.7 0.545
Hamonic 62.2 63.6 0.750
Jankowski 62.1 40.0 1.230
Hathaway 61.5 66.7 0.375
Giordano 61.5 33.3 0.825
Gaudreau 60.9 12.5 0.400
Tkachuk 60.9 88.9 0.740
Czarnik 58.3 40.0 1.175
Lindholm 58.3 12.5 0.405
Frolik 58.3 40.0 1.275
Brodie 56.8 33.3 0.325
Mangiapane 56.7 75.0 0.325
Monahan 56.5 12.5 0.340
Bennett 53.9 90.0 0.650
Backlund 52.0 90.0 0.920
Andersson 48.0 50.0 0.225
Kylington 44.4 46.2 -0.100
Rittich 1.450

This and That

The Flames improve to 32-1-4 when leading or tied after two periods.

Stick-tap to Sportsnet pal Rick Ball, who called a game with two Tkachuks, two Ryans and an Andersson and Anderson and seemed to keep them all straight. (He did refer to Juuso Valimaki’s ongoing AHL tenure as a “conditioning stint,” though, but let’s not hold it against him.)

Up Next

The Flames (39-16-7) are off to the scenic New York City area for the next few days. They practice tomorrow on Long Island, while team brass congregates in Manhattan for the NHL’s trade deadline at 1 p.m. MT.