For a variety of reasons, our annual countdown of the top five Flames moments was as difficult to come up with as I can remember. Much like it was around the world, 2021 was a messed up year for Calgary. For instance, their 56-game season was a nightmare and they had a COVID shutdown for almost three weeks in December. Nonetheless, we came up with five from the last calendar year, so let’s count ’em down! Happy New Year!
5. Vintage Johnny
February 1st | Flames 4 Jets 3 SO
There was so little to like about Calgary’s 56-game season inside the North Division. However, their shootout win over the Jets on February 1st was one of the rare positive moments, played at a time before everyone was grumpy and mad. As it was just the eighth game of the season, playoff hope was still very much alive and realistic.
After falling down 2-0, Chris Tanev scored from behind centre ice off the second period’s opening face-off. Johnny Gaudreau and Andrew Mangiapane scored third period goals to give the Flames their first lead, before Mark Scheifele sent the game to extra time. With the game on his stick in round four of the shootout, Gaudreau undressed Connor Hellebuyck with some of his patented magic.
4. Finish it in style
October 23rd | Flames 4 Capitals 3 OT
In game two of an early five-game road trip through the Eastern Conference, Calgary opened up an impressive 3-0 first period lead on the Caps. Powered by a pair of goals from Elias Lindholm, the Flames looked in control. But as they’re prone to do, Washington erased that lead in short order with three unanswered in the second.
Tied 3-3 in overtime, goaltender Dan Vladar hit Johnny Gaudreau with a stretch pass to start a sequence finished by Lindholm for his second career hat-trick. It was an impressive way to finish a dominant game for Lindholm, and it gave Vladar the win in his Flames debut while Gaudreau picked up his 500th career NHL point. The road trip would keep getting better from there.
3. Markström’s moment
October 28th | Flames 4 Penguins 0
Now at the end of their aforementioned five-game trip, Calgary had a chance to wrap things up with a perfect record and ten of a possible ten points. With Noah Hanifin sitting as a late scratch, the Flames were down a top-four defenceman, but I’m not sure it would have mattered. Jacob Markström was just too locked in.
Markström was stellar in posting his second shutout of the season and established a new Calgary record in the process. With 45, Markström posted the highest number of saves in a shutout since the Flames moved from Atlanta, passing Cam Talbot who made 44 in February 2020 (Dan Bouchard holds the franchise record going back to 1972). With the win, Calgary went a perfect 5-0-0 on their trip, which was a preview of things to come.
2. The Rangers rout
November 6th | Flames 6 Rangers 0
2021 gave us all a preview of what “back to normal” might look like once we’re there. On a Saturday night in early November, the Scotiabank Saddledome was rocking as the Flames wrapped up a five-game home stand against the Rangers. The building was juiced and ready to give New York’s Adam Fox a hard time all night long…and that’s exactly what happened.
Fox was booed every time he touched the puck in the early stages, but things got ramped to another level late in the first. On an admittedly great individual effort, Fox thought he had scored a game-tying goal and did his best Hulk Hogan impression to a silenced crowd. Unfortunately for Fox, the goal was way offside and called back, which opened the flood gates. Calgary scored five more and finished off a 6-0 rout with a Matthew Tkachuk between-the-legs highlight reel goal. It was a fun night.
1. Darryl Sutter’s return
Following a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Saddledome, the Flames made headlines across the league by replacing head coach Geoff Ward with Darryl Sutter. At 11-11-2, Calgary was underachieving and Ward had felt on thin ice for quite some time. But by bringing back Sutter, the decision ended up being far more emotional for Flames fans.
More than ten years after he exited the organization as general manager, Sutter’s return to coaching was celebrated by many. After all, Sutter was very successful with Calgary in parts of three seasons between 2002 and 2006 and was now a two-time Stanley Cup champion. After a slight delay, Sutter stepped behind the bench a week later and the Flames finished 15-15-0 with their new head coach. With how things have gone to start this season, it’s clear Sutter laid important foundation.
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