Beyond the Boxscore: Connor Zary’s third period tally is enough to fend off surging Lightning

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
5 months ago
There’s not much better than seeing the Calgary Flames win a hard-fought Saturday night tilt at the ‘Dome. Tampa being at the tail end of a 5-game road trip were quite content to play a low-event game – which after the first period it looked like that was going to be the case. Instead, Calgary came out and dominated the second period, found ways to get pucks past the goaler, and then was able to find an answer after things started slipping away in the third. The team can leave feeling positive for sure, but with the late game collapses lately how they performed in the third period does need to find some improvement.
CF% – 54.18%, SCF% – 62.16%, HDCF% – 49.34%, xGF% – 55.38%
It’s a Team Game – The first period took a long time to feel like it got started with the shots on net being 1-1 roughly halfway through the opening frame. No, not goals at 1-1, the shots. Tampa was creating next to nothing, but Calgary still hadn’t found much of their swagger yet. The second period became the Flames from the start as they were scoring in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fashion. The thing about those goals though is they weren’t all high danger chances. In fact over the Flames recent scoring burst a lot of the ones going in are ones the other goaltender should have (Zary tonight, for instance). The Flames are finally getting some positive bounces and finding ways to get some standings points.
Corsi King – Dillon Dubé (86.40%) and the fourth line had themselves a very strong night. They had a shift in the offensive zone that seemed like they were at a shooting range, getting the puck recoveries after a save or a miss and never letting the pressure cease. They did not score on it, but any shift spending that much time attacking has an inherently positive effect on the trickle-down shifts afterwards. Nick DeSimone (65.98%) was the top Flames defenceman. DeSimone looks like he belongs in the NHL when he’s got quick feet and finding shooting lanes through traffic. He’s got more offensive skill than he’s felt comfortable flashing so far – maybe now that he needs waivers to go back to the Wranglers we’ll see more of him. When Tanev comes back someone out of him, Oesterle (51.22%), or Solovyov (DNP) has to go back to the AHL, I personally do not think it should be Solovyov.
Corsi Clown – Yegor Sharangovich (33.18%) and the Flames line of Lindholm (35.24%) and Mangiapane (39.11%) were the catalyst for most of the early second period offence. Outside of that little stretch they were busy spending time in their own zone. Nikita Kucherov has to take advantage of someone when he and Point play together and tonight it felt like he was always out there against that trio. They were the only three Flames under 50% on the night.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – For all those chances – and even AJ Greer (100 SCF% // NA) getting the goal – none of the chances the fourth line created were of high danger variety. They did what you wish they would do every night and play around 10 minutes of 5v5 without surrendering any bad looks against. By those standards this was a knockout game for them. Martin Pospisil (100% // NA) also never saw a high danger look for or against. Blake Coleman (66.45% // 61.23%) led all Flames skaters being involved in the most high danger chances on the team at 5, but he saw 3 come back his way too. Typically, as long as you outpace what you create you’ll do alright – that’s been Coleman this year in a nutshell.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – The leader here was Ružička (90.06%) which will happen when you don’t see any dangerous chances against you. Someone I haven’t mentioned yet was Connor Zary (78.89%) who made a tremendous solo effort to save the game for Calgary. If he gives up on the play because Brandon Hagel – who was all over him from the neutral zone into the attacking zone – was pestering him there’s no guarantee the Flames hold the Lightning off the rest of the way. The third period was a Lightning onslaught – the Flames all being largely over 50% speaks to the strength of their first 40 minutes.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – Can’t ever fault a guy for just one 5v5 goal against. That’s called doing your job. The third period especially he had to come through and make some big saves to keep the team from collapsing. It got brutal out there for the goaltender in red during crunch time – completely unfair to him at this level. The skaters in front of him need to do better to close out games, which they can do when they trail in the third period but have not been able to do with a lead. Vladar has done really well since Markstrom went down and has done a lot to silence the noise about whether he belongs in the NHL or not.
Player Spotlight – Jonathan Huberdeau – Zero reason to mention him in any other section tonight. He was eighth among forwards in 5v5 ice time tonight and that just isn’t okay – for the player or the team. It’s unlikely the lines get mixed up after a win like this (and Sharangovich’s production despite Lindholm’s poor play this season) but Huberdeau with Backlund has really stalled out in terms of chance creation, puck movement, and pretty much everything you can think of. You just can’t win for losing here – things work for a bit and then fall apart no matter where you try him. This is getting worse by the day and there’s 625 regular season games left on his deal.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Connor Zary
2) AJ Greer
3) Dan Vladar
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com // xG and Under Pressure charts from HockeyViz.com // Game Flow and Shot Heatmap from NaturalStatTrick.com)

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