Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Flames out-gun Golden Knights

The Calgary Flames halted their losing skid at four games with an impressive performance on Sunday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. In a battle with big playoff implications, they out-gunned the Vegas Golden Knights by a 6-3 score.

The Rundown

The Flames got on the scoreboard early, ending a goal drought that dated back to the middle of their loss in Vegas last week. At the tail end of a really strong shift from the fourth line, the Golden Knights thought they had left the zone and went for a change. But the puck was swatted and kept onside, which allowed Garnet Hathaway to spring Andrew Mangiapane in on his lonesome. One deke later and the Flames had a 1-0 lead.

A few minutes later the Flames doubled their cushion, as Mikael Backlund strode into the Vegas zone and put a puck on net. His shot beat Subban low on his blocker side, just inside the post, to make it a 2-0 Flames lead.

Vegas spoiled David Rittich’s shutout bid rather early. Alex Tuch chased down a Vegas dump into the Flames zone. He waited and found Brandon Pirri out front for a bang-bang play and Pirri roofed the puck past Rittich to cut Calgary’s lead to 2-1.

Late in the period, a shot block by Mark Giordano sprang Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk on a two-on-one rush. Frolik showed a ton of patience, waiting until both the goaltender and defender bit before shuffling the puck over to Tkachuk for a tap-in that made it a 3-1 game.

Shots were 14-8 Flames and scoring chances 10-5 Flames in the first period.

The Golden Knights battled back to kick off the second period. With TJ Brodie caught up ice, Vegas’ top line executed a nice passing sequence that ended with a Reilly Smith goal that made it 3-2 just 21 seconds in.. They tied things up 59 seconds later, after Mark Stone buried a Paul Stastny feed to make it 3-3.

But Rasmus Andersson drew a tripping penalty and set up the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play. His slapper was tipped by Backlund out front to make it 4-3 Flames with 22 seconds left in the period. The Golden Knights challenged the goal on the basis of goalie interference, but it was ruled that Backlund didn’t impede Subban’s ability to play the position – Subban tried to use his glove hand, but Backlund’s body and butt were in the way.

Subban received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the horn for disputing the call to referee Dan O’Halloran.

Shots were 14-8 Flames and chances were 9-9 in the second.

The Golden Knights pressed throughout the third period to try to tie up the game, but Backlund found Tkachuk with another patient pass for a chip-in goal to make it 5-3 Flames late in the period.

Tkachuk added an empty netter late to complete his hat trick and ice this one at 6-3 Flames.

Shots were 12-7 Golden Knights and scoring chances were 12-6 Golden Knights in the third period.

Why the Flames Won

The Flames were energetic throughout this game, but the big key was they tended to avoid running around in their own zone too much. They executed much more effectively in all three zones than they have in several games, to boot.

Red Warrior

It’s a collective nod to the 3M line. All three players combined for 11 points – Tkachuk had a hat trick and an assist, Backlund had two goals and an assist, while Frolik had four assists – and they were dangerous offensively and stingy defensively.

Stick-tap to Johnny Gaudreau, who had nine shots.

The Turning Point

Backlund’s go-ahead goal late in the second period was huge. It was a late goal, something that tends to swing momentum, but it also led to a Vegas penalty after Subban’s protests fell on deaf ears.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Frolik 60.0 40.0 3.360
Tkachuk 57.7 40.0 3.525
Hamonic 55.3 55.6 1.400
Giordano 55.2 53.9 0.875
Backlund 54.6 40.0 2.960
Ryan 54.2 0.0 0.390
Hanifin 54.1 55.6 0.450
Brodie 53.3 53.9 0.000
Lindholm 52.6 61.5 0.090
Mangiapane 50.0 20.0 1.100
Hathaway 50.0 0.0 1.075
Gaudreau 46.2 57.1 0.425
Monahan 46.2 61.5 -0.230
Jankowski 45.0 75.0 -0.215
Bennett 42.1 71.4 -0.475
Fantenberg 38.5 44.4 -0.300
Czarnik 38.1 75.0 0.140
Andersson 37.5 44.4 0.775
Rittich 0.250

This and That

This was Austin Czarnik’s 100th NHL game.

Backlund’s multi-point effort pushed him past the 40 point mark for the season. He’s had 40 or more points in each of his past four seasons.

Up Next

The Flames (42-20-7) are back in action on Tuesday night when they host the New Jersey Devils.

    • Captain Ron

      I hear ya. Sure hope he is injured in some way that is preventing him from showing up. I really doubt he is making a conscious decision to be invisible most nights.

    • Bucky 1989

      We all need to stop seeing Monahan as Calgary’s top line forward. Yes, great shot! Beyond that I’m going to argue he is a liability. If you take the time to watch him here is what you will see that makes him a liability. First, he struggles to win puck battles. Secondly he frankly is not a great passer. If you watch a game and see him pass the puck, your going to see 1-3 times a game where his passes completely miss the mark. Its as if he doesn’t read the play and puts the puck where it should not be put. I’m really not trying to dump on him, I’ve said this for some time and trust me if you watch him, if he is hurt or not; he likely needs to be part of a formal upgrade in the off-season.

  • TheRock

    Flames win!
    NoSaveDave lucks out again!
    .889 save percentage won’t get it done for us in the playoffs!
    I’ll say it again – the failure to get us a goalie will topple us this year!

    • KootenayFlamesFan

      Pretty much everything about this season so far would say you’re wrong. We complain a lot here but this has been a heck of a season for this club!!!

        • Weirddave

          So what the F*** do you want? People like you act like there’s some magic perfect world, perfect team, perfect game scenario out there. There isn’t.

          Look, I’m late to the game with hockey, and I know less about the game than almost anyone else on this site, but I’ve been a sports fan for most of my 50-odd years and I’ll tell you a few somethings:

          #1: The other team gets a shot, and they’re professionals too. That’s what makes sports fun. “Oh, if only Johnny had flipped onto his head and slid down the iced while shooting the puck with his d***, he’d have a triple-hat trick! It’s so simple that even my 300 lb ass sitting in my reclining chair drinking Kokanee by the case can see it, why can’t these stupid hockey players?” You probably watch porn and criticize the model’s elbows.

          #2: Generally speaking, the athletes are doing their best. That’s not to say you can’t criticize a bad play or a bad game or even a bad streak. Nobody’s perfect and humans can get into patterns that need to be corrected, but nobody steps onto the ice and thinks “Ho hum, I’m just going to phone it in”.

          #3: No team is perfect. No team is strong in all phases of the game. You think there’s a team out there that rolls 4 lines that just dominate their opponents for 60 minutes, with goaltenders that function as brick walls and snipers that never miss? (To be fair, Tampa this year is close). No. It doesn’t happen. It’s IMPOSSIBLE.

          So what are we left with? An imperfect team (#3), doing their best (#2) against other professionals who are also trying their best (#1). Nobody knows how that will turn out. And when (inevitably) something falls short, and when (inevitably) only one team wins the cup with 30 other teams on the outside looking in, you can sit in your basement and sniff in your superiority saying “I told you about the elbows” until your mom comes downstairs and washes your cum-soaked sheets for you and revel in the knowledge that you were right, you were absolutely right and the Flames just weren’t good enough to win the cup. You win, OK? Cassandra, thou wert prescient, we bow before your impressive knowledge, we’re not worthy.

          Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy the win, hope we’re back on track, and see what the rest of the season brings. Your mileage may vary.

          • Budgie

            There is some valid criticism, lately it has been goal-tending and the top line. Point taken on not being perfect, Montreal with one of the best goaltenders was beat for 8 goals, Tampa loses, yadayadayada. Party on Garth, know I’m sayin… Everyone wants their team to win and slumps happen. For instance, you drink Kokanee by the case-likely by the 6pack not 24-a ‘flat’. You probably could do better, try a different line of beer, mix up those lines. Some Big Rock mixed in with Kokanee, or a Guinness or KilKenny, mix it up and give your beer belly a spark, watch Wrestling instead of Porn-its kind of similar these days though. Then watch some Flames Hockey to even out.

          • Derzie

            I’m all over this post by Weirddave. Good stuff.
            The original point was about our weakest area and it’s valid. For example, Subban in for MAF made a difference last night. No question. Our goalies may end up winning us the cup, or not. It’s mostly voodoo. The ghost of Iggy has been vanquished at long last by Lindholm. We are still in the haunted by Kipper era. BSD & Smith are just normal. Still looking to vanquish that Finnish, chain-smoking, beer guzzling ghost.

        • KootenayFlamesFan

          I didn’t say it couldn’t be improved. I said that all the evidence points to us being able to win regardless. This team has not played well since the all star break and is still in first place in the west. Not a whole lot to complain about in reality.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Come on. Find something better to do with your time. We just destroyed the LVGK and are top in the Pacific. Seriously, why did all flames fans suddenly become worse perfectionists than my in law

      • TheRock

        We could be all in this year if we had a goalie who could consistently stop pucks…
        NoSaveDave crumples under pressure.
        Smith is good for at least 4 per night.
        If we had paid the price and gotten a proven puck stopper, this would have been our year.
        Remember 2014-2015? We were on fire that year. Next year, not so much.
        Lets hope NoSaveDave doesn’t lead us down that road again…

        • Weirddave

          So let me ask you a question. An honest question, because I’m still learning all this stuff. What goalie was available at the trade deadline that is better than what we’ve got? Just that, forget all the rest (cost, future considerations, salary cap, all of it). If price is no object, what goalie should we have signed?

          • Albertabeef

            We knew goalies were our big question mark before the season started. If we were going to fix it, it should have been done in the offseason. There were some decent UFAs available, I would have targeted Lehner, others would have suggested M-A Fleury. The trade deadline they could have targeted someone from Arizona or Ottawa seeking insurance or an upgrade. I myself know that anything can happen in the playoffs, Smith’s last season most likely so I see the change happening this summer if at all. They might look at giving Gillies, Parsons and company a chance next year, which might not be so bad. There really is no right answer to your question, any goalie can lose in the playoffs. I have literally seen every goalie, on every team lose in the playoffs.

          • TheRock

            Three easy options from the past month that would have been an upgrade.

            1. Bobrovsky. Trade smith + 1st round pick + Prospect (Foo?).
            We sign Bob instantly to an extension and shore up goaltending.
            CBJ happy to get another goalie who can occasionally play while building for the future.

            2. Talbot for Smith and a 5th.
            Talbot can make saves – he just needs a defender or two in front of him (EDM has none). Who knows, if you did this deal when Chia was still in town, maybe he would sweeten the pot. Talbot took EDM far beyond where they should have gone, I’d pay a 5th to see if that could happen again.

            3. Varlamov in Colorado. Not sure what could get this deal done. Smith + 2nd rounder and another piece. Same issue as EDM. Quality goalie for the future.

          • Cfan in Van

            Rock, you’re dreaming. CBJ went full-hog on stocking up for playoff hopes, they’re not giving up Bob for Smith (and both Smith and Foo have zero trade value). Although Talbot has improved in Philly, that’s hindsight, and nobody (you included) would have wanted him before the deadline with the numbers he had this season. Varlomov: A second wouldn’t do it, and then he’s UFA and commanding big bucks in the offseason.

  • Spider you muda&@#ker

    3M kicked some ass tonight was nice to see. Frolik made some really nice plays with the puck he wont get much credit but that no look pass to Chucky on that 2 on 1 was pretty slick.

        • Albertabeef

          Games with Brodie on the third pair the team scores 2 or less, but games where he’s on the first line you get four goals or more for. It’s just part of the chemistry that makes the team successful as a whole. We accept Johnny’s and Gio’s screw ups but nobody else’s? Yes it’s part of the way Johnny and Gio make us successful, TJ’s style of play contributes to that success more than people realize.

        • Albertabeef

          Also I was looking at franchise scoring since 2013-14 till now and Brodie is fifth on that list. On a whole career he is fairly close to being on pace with Gio points wise. At the end of Gio’s 8th season he had 245 points. Brodie in his eighth season has 244. You all just need to stop and think about that for a moment. He has had to deal with so many crappy partners over his time here like the Widemans and Engelands, and whatever else but he keeps on trucking along. He is not perfect, but then I have never met anyone perfect in my life.

  • BendingCorners

    The best and worst of the Flames on display in a single game – quick transition, crisp passes, opportunistic goals and some solid hits, but also slow return on the back-check, soft passes, passive coverage. If they play 60 minutes well they can smoke any team (and did it a few times this season) but I’m happy tonight they did enough of it to win.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Tonight’s Takeaways:

    Thought the game was on Monday, so I missed the first two periods but was able to see all of the third.

    Flames seemed content with letter the Knights dictate the play for most of the third. I didn’t care much for that approach but it worked.

    Happy and also surprised to see Bennett was back after having his bell rung in the last game. Only noticed him when he hit a Knight and before I could identify the hitter, Ball did it for me.

    Can we just leave the 3-M line alone and let them do their thing?

    Didn’t hear Ball call Lindhom’s name in the 3rd.

    On the 5th goal the camera panned the crowd and there was this very unhappy young lady in a Knight’s jersey surrounded by a mob of red-clad Flames fans whooping it up. I felt for her as we’ve all been there.

    I heard that Subban got an unsportsmanlike penalty at the end of the 2nd, but other than having a tough night at the office, was there any other the faithful were serenading him? Seemed tiny-town because he is the seldom-used backup. Good form says you only chorus starters unless the backup has been an especially naughty boy.

    If Vegas and the Flames collide in the playoffs, do the Flames have a Stone crusher by the name of Stone? Let’s face it, Mickey probably knows most or all of Marky-Mark’s moves. He may not have the skill to neutralize them but he does have the knowledge and knowledge is power.

    • Stern

      It was what he did to get the unsportsmanlike penalty Nigel, he kinda crossed the line a bit. I have no problem with the fans mocking him after his display. He should have been tossed from the game.

  • Sven

    Missed the game-

    currently in Indian Wells taking in the BNP tennis open

    Nice to see a few pucks in the opposing net

    but given

    # D. Rittich
    28 shots – 3 goals – 25 saves .893 save percentage

    I think its time we have to realize that our path to
    the cup has to channel the
    2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks –


    the last team to win the cup with below average goaltending
    0.903 save percentage vs 0.910 league average

    # it can be done

    and as a side note

    Indian wells
    # Félix Auger-Aliassime

    O M G !!!!!

  • LannyMac

    they score on that absolute bonehead give away by Johnny and this game ends differently. What the he!! is going through 6.75 mil athletes head to do something as absolutely stupid like that. Your in a one goal game and you are not pressured on the puck and you leave the puck right in the slot for your opponent. It is exactly that crap that kills a team in the playoffs.

      • Luter 1

        He’s got two things that you can always use more of on your team – speed and a very good shot for a little guy. He keeps playing like that and he stays in the line-up for the playoffs. Czarnik not so much tonight and Jankowski was surprisingly invisible. Expect Quine to sub in for Czarnik.
        Nothing wrong with Fantenberg, actually threw some checks off the backend which is typically invisible in the physical department.

    • Lazarus

      Nice goal. Peters had him slotted in correctly and that is where you leave him..4th line. He is fine there.
      You don’t need to find him skilled linemates and force him up to the 2nd line where he showed nothing a few game back..besides 3M looked alright without him didn’t they?

  • Gus Fring

    I missed the game but what was the story with iu4 first line? 6 goals and not on3 of th3m got a point? Not being negative but thank god Subban played and not Fleury!