0
Photo Credit: Candice Ward/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: After flat start, Flames rally past Canucks

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The Calgary Flames weren’t very good for the first 20 minutes against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night. But they took the game over in the second period and the Canucks seemed out-matched physically and emotionally as the Flames paced themselves to a decisive 5-2 victory over their North Division rivals.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The rundown

The Flames were simply not very good in the first period. They coughed the puck up, frequently. Passing plays fell apart in the neutral zone. They couldn’t bury the chances they did get. Thankfully, Jacob Markstrom was sharp and kept the game close.

The Canucks scored just once, as Jake Virtanen was given oodles of time and space at the left point after a pass from J.T. Miller. Virtanen saw there was traffic and hucked the puck towards the net front area, where it glanced off Juuso Valimaki and beat Markstrom to make it 1-0 Canucks.

Shots were 16-4 Canucks and scoring chances 6-4 Canucks in the first period.

The Flames were similarly clunky for the first few minutes of the second period, with the shots 17-5 Vancouver at one point. But the Flames seemed to finally snap out of their funk as the period wore on.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Flames didn’t score on their second power play of the period, but they gained a lot of momentum from it. A few shifts after their PP expired, the Flames hit the scoreboard. Some nice puck management work below the dots translated into a nice give-and-go passing play between Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan with Dominik Simon working as a screen on Thatcher Demko. Gaudreau flipped the puck past Demko to tie the game at 1-1.

Shortly after that, the Flames grabbed the lead. Josh Leivo made a smart defensive play at the Flames blueline, resulting in a rush towards the Canucks zone. Demko managed to stop chances from Leivo and Milan Lucic, but Mikael Backlund slid in and picked up the scraps, beating Demko to give the Flames a 2-1 edge.

A couple Canucks penalties in quick succession gave the Flames a late period two man advantage and they managed to cash in. After a few miscues, the Flames entered the zone with urgency, made some smart passes, and Gaudreau fed Elias Lindholm for a one-timer that beat Demko with two-tenths of a second left on the clock to give the home side a 3-1 lead.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Shots were 20-3 Flames and scoring chances 13-1 in the second period.

The Flames kept pressing in the third period, got another power play, and their battle level allowed them to cash in again. The Flames battled Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic for a puck below the goal line in the Canucks zone. The Canucks blindly chucked away the puck… right to Mark Giordano, whose slap shot beat Demko to make it 4-1 Flames.

With the Flames on a power play midway through the period, Tyler Myers took advantage of a lack of urgency by the PP unit and beat Markstrom off the rush (on a shot that banked in off Giordano) to cut the lead to 4-2.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Canucks pulled their goalie for the extra attacker with over four minutes remaining. Andrew Mangiapane took a tripping minor with just over three minutes left to give Vancouver an extended six-on-four advantage. But the Flames killed off the Canucks power play. Rasmus Andersson added a very long empty-netter off a defensive zone face-off win to make it 5-2 Flames and cement the victory.

Shots were 8-8 and scoring chances 8-3 Flames in the third period.

Why the Flames won

Well, two big reasons. First, Markstrom was very sharp early on as the Flames tried to shake off the cobwebs. Second, the Flames managed to flip the switch and take over the game in the second period and they executed offensively in ways that they couldn’t earlier in the game. When the Flames’ key offensive players have their swagger, they can be a tough team to beat.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with Gaudreau, who looked like his 2018-19 vintage for long stretches of this game.

But a lot of Flames played well, including Tkachuk, Lindholm, Backlund, Mangiapane and Monahan. (That’s not an exhaustive list.)

The turning point

Midway through the second period, Canucks forward Elias Pettersson took a penalty and referee Brad Meier was caught in the arena on a hot microphone tersely recommending that he take a seat. The Flames didn’t cash in on that man advantage, but that PP really gave them momentum and things snowballed for them (positively) from there.

The numbers

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

Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Face-Off%
Game
Score
Tkachuk 81.0 20.0 2.962
Leivo 80.0 66.7 1.604
Dube 77.8 0.0 0.159
Lindholm 76.9 25.0 1.272
Giordano 72.2 37.5 1.423
Nesterov 63.2 100 -0.767
Backlund 61.1 40.0 -0.827
Monahan 60.0 50.0 4.711
Gaudreau 55.0 50.0 3.886
Lucic 52.9 40.0 1.427
Andersson 52.6 14.3 5.038
Valimaki 52.4 80.0 -0.444
Hanifin 52.0 0.0 0.979
Tanev 45.8 40.0 0.169
Bennett 38.5 50.0 -0.457
Mangiapane 33.3 40.0 -1.979
Simon 30.0 50.0 0.788
Ryan 23.1 50.0 -0.746
Markstrom 0.380
Rittich

This and that

Dillon Dube left the game after playing just one shift in the second period (and just 3:55 total in the entire game to that point). In his absence, we got some new forward lines:

  • Tkachuk – Lindholm – Mangiapane
  • Gaudreau – Monahan – Simon
  • Lucic – Backlund – Leivo
  • (rotating, usually Tkachuk) – Bennett – Ryan

With no Dube, Bennett filled in for him on the second power play unit. (Giordano also got a shift with the top unit and Valimaki got a shift with the second unit in his place later on.)

Geoff Ward had no update on Dube following the game.

Up next

The Flames (2-0-1) are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the meantime and in between time, they have three practice days on the docket.