Post-Game Wrap-Up: Flames cool Jets, take Game 1

The Calgary Flames were sloppy early in Game 1 of their Qualifying Round series with the Winnipeg Jets. But the Flames managed to calm themselves down and play a smart, structured game en route to a pretty impressive 4-1 victory in the opening game of the 2020 post-season.

The Rundown

The opening period was chippy and featured one scary-looking play. Mark Scheifele went into the boards awkwardly on an attempted check by Matthew Tkachuk. He went down clutching his leg with an injury of some kind.

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Tkachuk fought Blake Wheeler later in the period.

A bit later, Tobias Rieder lost a defensive zone face-off to Adam Lowry. After a bit of a scramble in the zone, Lowry fed Andrew Copp from below the goal line and his one-timer beat Cam Talbot to give the Jets a 1-0 edge.

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Shots were 9-7 Flames and scoring chances 5-4 Flames in the first period. The Flames got better as the period wore on, but their execution with the puck was pretty sloppy. Shots were 7-2 Jets at one point, but then the Flames got the final seven shots of the period.

The Flames kept pressing in the second period and finally broke through midway through. On a power play, the Flames made a simple play. Off a face-off win, Erik Gustafsson’s point shot was stopped but the forwards shuffled the puck to the side of the net for Johnny Gaudreau. He bobbled it initially, but beat Connor Hellebuyck to tie the game at 1-1.

With Sam Bennett in the penalty box, the Flames scored again. TJ Brodie sprung Tobias Rieder in for a breakaway. He went backhand, top shelf on Hellebuyck for a shorthanded marker that gave the Flames a 2-1 lead.

The Flames scored again on a power play before the period was up. Tkachuk drew a penalty and on the ensuing advantage, Dillon Dube took a beating in the corner but held onto the puck. That allowed Andrew Mangiapane to feed a sneaky Mikael Backlund, who was left all alone and beat Hellebuyck top shelf to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.

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Shots were 18-6 Flames in the second period, but scoring chances were 6-5 Jets.

Both sides pressed in the third period, but the Flames played a pretty structured defensive game (including three successful penalty kills). Mangiapane added an empty-netter late to give the Flames a 4-1 lead, and that was enough for the victory.

Shots were 6-5 Flames and scoring chances 6-3 Jets in the third period.

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Why the Flames Won

The Jets seemed to lose steam as the game wore on, as they went off their game-plan after Scheifele was hurt. The Flames? They got better as the game went on and played a smarter, tidier game than we’ve been accustomed to.

Red Warrior

We’ve gotta go with Tkachuk. He was crashing and banging all night and provided his team with a constant spark.

Stick-taps to Derek Ryan and Rieder, who each played north of seven minutes on the penalty kill and allowed zero Jets goals.

The Turning Point

The Flames have had oodles of games during the past while when they’ve out-played the other team but haven’t managed to out-score them. Heck, they had one in the exhibition game against Edmonton. So Gaudreau’s power play goal midway through the second to draw the game even was pretty big for the team’s – and player’s – confidence.

The Numbers

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.

Lindholm 77.8 33.3 1.035
Andersson 52.9 62.5 -0.100
Hanifin 52.4 57.1 0.400
Forbort 50.0 33.3 0.175
Dube 50.0 50.0 0.225
Gaudreau 50.0 33.3 0.825
Bennett 50.0 62.5 0.150
Backlund 47.4 37.5 0.810
Ryan 44.4 50.0 -0.050
Monahan 41.2 33.3 0.955
Giordano 40.9 50.0 -0.075
Brodie 40.9 50.0 0.350
Tkachuk 38.9 75.0 0.150
Lucic 38.9 55.6 0.275
Gustafsson 38.5 25.0 -0.225
Mangiapane 37.5 42.9 1.250
Rieder 35.7 25.0 0.605
Rinaldo 33.3 50.0 -0.250
Talbot 0.950

This and That

This was the 41st time in 71 games where the Flames allowed the other team to score first. It was also the 28th time in 71 games where the Flames trailed after the first period.

The Flames scored twice on four power play opportunities. They allowed zero goals on seven Jets power plays.

Scheifele left the game and didn’t return after his collision with Tkachuk in the first period. Patrik Laine appeared to hurt his left wrist after collisions with Mark Giordano and Sam Bennett in the third period and also left the game.

Up Next

The Flames lead the best-of-five qualifying round series 1-0. Game 2 is scheduled for 12:30 pm. MT on Monday on Sportsnet’s national feed. Once again, the Flames will be the “home” team and have last change.