The Calgary Flames returned home on Saturday evening for their first home date since their exhausting four game road trip. They weren’t amazing, but they never trailed en route to a 3-1 victory against a scrappy Ottawa Senators club.
The Flames played their best first period in recent memory. They didn’t blow the doors off of Ottawa and they were prone to a few own-zone turnovers, but they otherwise managed the puck intelligently and did their best to generate scoring chances. They even had sustained pressure on Ottawa for two full minutes, though they didn’t score.
They finally got rewarded late in the period off a face-off scramble. Artem Anisimov won the draw to his winger, but Dillon Dube out-maneuvered him for the loose puck and beat Marcus Hogberg to give the Flames a 1-0 advantage.
Shots were 9-8 Senators in the first, but scoring chances were 11-6 Flames.
Neither team hit the scoresheet in the second period, though Ottawa was all over the Flames for much of the period. The Flames had a pair of power plays (and one shot), while Ottawa had a late first period power play (and zero shots) that spilled over into the third period. Shots were 9-7 Senators and scoring chances 11-3 Senators.
The Flames were holding on for dear life in the third period, but the Senators finally broke through late in the period as Jean-Gabriel Pageau put a wrist shot over David Rittich’s shoulder off the rush to tie the game at 1-1.
But the Flames retook the lead 61 seconds later. A puck got chipped into the Senators zone and the defenders had trouble grabbing hold of it. Elias Lindholm hustled, beat out the defenders to the puck and chipped it past Hogberg to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
Lindholm scored a power play empty netter to extend the lead to 3-1 and cement the victory for the home side.
Why the Flames Won
It would be a massive lie to say the Flames out-classed or out-worked the Senators. They didn’t. But the Flames out-played them in the first, got a lead, and then were just good enough in key areas at key moments to stay a step ahead of them.
Let’s be honest here: the schedule helped out the Flames on this occasion. The Senators didn’t have a ton of jump and relied a ton on their systems and patience. The Flames were able to push the pace at key times and wear them out a bit. It was in many ways a “schedule win,” but it’s better than a “schedule loss.”
He scored a big goal with a nice individual effort, so we’re giving it to Lindholm. But the second and third lines were consistently good throughout this one and deserve a ton of praise.
The Turning Point
Ottawa’s late goal was a source of anxiety for many watching given the Flames’ habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory lately. So Lindholm’s go-ahead goal was a great response for a group that is still trying to generate momentum.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and That
This was Sean Monahan’s 500th NHL game.
The Flames honoured the University of Calgary Dinos football team prior to the game. They won the Vanier Cup last weekend, their first national football championship since 1995.
The Flames (13-12-4) have a light schedule for the next little while. They have days off Sunday and Monday. They’re back in game action on Thursday when they host the Buffalo Sabres.