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Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Flames Post-Game: Flames spoil Islanders’ homecoming

The Calgary Flames have played a lot of road games to begin the 2021-22 season and if there’s a team that understands the grind, it’s the New York Islanders. The Islanders hosted the Flames on Saturday in the very first game at the UBS Arena.

The Flames weren’t perfect, but never trailed in a special-teams heavy 5-2 victory over the Islanders.

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The rundown

The Flames made history early, scoring the first-ever goal at UBS Arena. The goal was scored by Brad Richardson, as Milan Lucic’s forecheck caused Matt Martin to spin and give the puck away in the Islanders’ zone. Richardson grabbed the puck and beat Semyon Varlamov stick-side to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The Flames added to their lead on the power play, as Andrew Mangiapane made a slick redirection of a Noah Hanifin point shot from the high slot. The bouncing puck beat Varlamov to give the Flames a 2-0 lead.

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But the Islanders got on the board late, on their fourth power play of the period. After some nice puck movement, Brock Nelson’s shot from the slot beat Jacob Markström and bounced out off of the in-net camera. Play continued, but the play was reviewed and the goal counted, which made it a 2-1 Flames lead.

Shots were 13-9 Islanders (8-8 at five-on-five) and scoring chances 7-7 in the first period.

The Flames extended their lead with another power play goal in the second period. After some nice cycling, a Hanifin point shot was redirected by Mangiapane, again, and eluded Varlamov to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.

Shots were 15-9 Flames (7-5 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 7-7 in the second period.

But the Islanders made a big push to open the third period and managed to take advantage of a lapse in coverage by Nikita Zadorov and Erik Gudbranson to cut the lead to 3-2. That pairing got chasing in their own zone, opening a passing lane for Oliver Wahlstrom to find Nelson out front for a quick pass, shot, and goal.

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The Islanders kept pressing, but Markström was superb. Trevor Lewis and Johnny Gaudreau each scored into an empty net to give the Flames a 5-2 lead and cement the victory.

Shots were 14-7 Islanders (13-5 Islanders at five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-5 Islanders in the third period.

Why the Flames won

The Islanders were missing some key players and the Flames out-played them at five-on-five when they were able to use all their lines. When they got into penalty trouble, the Flames’ penalty kill (and Markström) were able to largely bail them out and generate momentum (which was continued by the Flames’ power play units).

All-in-all, Calgary’s special teams players were able to execute more effectively than the Islanders’.

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Red Warrior

Markström was dynamite for the Flames, again, and was their best penalty killer. He made a ton of key saves at key times to give the Flames a breather. The Flames’ two power play units were also quite good.

The turning point

Take your pick from either of the Flames’ power play goals by Mangiapane, but their second period goal gave them a two-goal lead for the second time in the game and ensured that a bloop or a bounce (or a defensive lapse) wouldn’t erase Calgary’s lead.

The numbers

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

Expected
Goals For%
O-Zone
Face-Off%
Game
Score
Lucic 69.5 75.0 0.92
Andersson 65.3 0.0 1.15
Hanifin 60.1 0.0 2.43
Richardson 53.4 75.0 1.42
Mangiapane 53.3 33.3 1.87
Lewis 51.6 75.0 1.52
Backlund 42.4 33.3 0.48
Kylington 41.8 55.6 0.71
Tanev 36.5 55.6 0.10
Pitlick 35.5 25.0 -0.55
Dube 35.1 33.3 -0.58
Coleman 34.7 33.3 -0.30
Monahan 32.8 25.0 -0.97
Gaudreau 27.7 20.0 1.08
Lindholm 25.3 25.0 -0.23
Tkachuk 20.8 25.0 -0.45
Gudbranson 11.1 33.3 -1.61
Zadorov 10.6 33.3 -1.74
Markström 1.26
Vladar

This and that

Blake Coleman took the ceremonial opening face-off. (He’s not a centre and he’s not an alternate captain, but it seems likely that he was chosen due to his tenure with the rival New Jersey Devils.)

The Islanders’ power play goal late in the first period was the first power play goal allowed by Calgary since Nov. 11, a span of more than four games.

Up next

The Flames (10-3-5) are hopping on a plane and heading to Beantown. They’ll face the Boston Bruins tomorrow evening in their seventh (and final) game of this road trip.

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