Calgary Flames Post-Game: A visit to the Emerald City snaps a losing streak
Photo credit:Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike23 days ago
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In the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz, a rag-tag bunch of misfits followed the Yellow Brick Road to the mythical Emerald City, hoping that the wizard could fulfill their deepest wishes. The Calgary Flames headed to the real Emerald City, Seattle, on Saturday night, looking for their first win since Oct. 19.
Despite losing a key player nine minutes into the game, the Flames dug their heels in and played a pretty effective 60 minutes of hockey against the Seattle Kraken. They snapped their six-game losing skid by way of a hard-fought 6-3 road victory.
The game was fairly even early on, but the Kraken got a big advantage midway through the first period after Andrew Mangiapane was levied a match penalty for cross-checking Jared McCann in the neck while he was sprawled on the ice.
The Kraken got a five-minute power play as a result of Mangiapane’s ejection, and they cashed in roughly 1:11 into the major power play. The Kraken cycled the puck in the offensive zone and Oliver Bjorkstrand fired a shot from the high slot that beat Dan Vladar just inside the far post stick-side to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
But the Flames didn’t allow any other damage on that Seattle power play. Martin Pospisil had been serving the penalty and he stepped out of the box and joined the rush upon its expiry. Off the rush, Nazem Kadri’s initial shot on Philipp Grubauer was stopped, but rookie Martin Pospisil batted the loose rebound into the open net for his first NHL goal to tie the game at 1-1.
The Kraken retook the lead later in the first period, though. MacKenzie Weegar had the puck whacked off his stick just inside the defensive blueline, leading to a really slick passing sequence. The puck went from Devin Shore to Yanni Gourde to Eeli Tolvanen to into the net, getting fired from the slot area past Vladar to make it 2-1 Kraken.
First period shots were 10-6 Kraken (7-5 Kraken at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-6 Flames (high-dangers were 4-1 Flames).
The second period was another fairly even 20 minutes, with each side getting some good looks. Late in the period, the Flames got a couple overlapping power plays – featuring 47 seconds of five-on-three advantage – and they cashed in. Seattle penalty-killer Alex Wennberg broke his stick, giving the Flames additional time and space to operate. After a bit of cycling and some nice passing, Noah Hanifin’s shot from the point squirted through Grubauer’s pads and into the net to tie the game up at 2-2.
Second period shots were 13-3 Flames (7-3 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 5-2 Kraken (high-dangers were 3-1 Kraken).
The Flames grabbed hold of the game early in the third period. Off a nice bit of puck cycling by Connor Zary, Yegor Sharangovich and the defenders at the point, Zary threw the puck to the point and Nikita Zadorov’s point shot was deftly redirected by Sharangovich past Grubauer from the slot to give the Flames a 3-2 lead.
A couple minutes later, the Flames padded their lead. Off a turnover in the Flames zone, A.J. Greer got a breakaway chance. His shot on Grubauer was stopped, but the puck wasn’t frozen by the goaltender. Walker Duehr fished the puck out and got a chance, and Mikael Backlund swooped in and scored on the loose rebound to give the Flames a 4-2 lead.
Late in the game, Seattle pulled Grubauer for the extra attacker and were rewarded. Matty Beniers’ feed from the side of the face-off circle was redirected by Jaden Schwartz past Vladar to cut the Flames’ lead to 4-3.
But Backlund banked a clearing pass off the side boards and it slid all the way into the empty net at the far side of the rink to reinstate the Flames’ two-goal lead at 5-3. Rasmus Andersson added a second empty-netter to make it a 6-3 Flames victory.
Third period shots were 12-7 Flames (10-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-7 Flames (high-dangers were 3-2 Flames).
Why the Flames won
Give credit where it’s due: the Flames played a really, really effective 60 minutes of hockey. Yeah, they lost one of their key offensive drivers in the first period – and they may be without him for a few more games. But they didn’t become unravelled when that happened. They seemed to double-down on what can make them effective: puck possession, puck management and a pretty even lineup.
They don’t have the star power to blow the doors off of any NHL clubs these days – maybe that’ll emerge at some point – but they have the ability to wear a team down and take over games. That’s largely what happened against Seattle.
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Let’s give it to Backlund, who played a ton and had two goals. But a lot of guys wearing red and white jerseys had strong efforts. Stick-taps to folks like Vladar, Kadri, Pospisil, Zary and Hanifin, among others.
We’ll go macro and micro here.
The big-picture turning point was the Flames’ general reaction to Mangiapane’s ejection. After the initial Seattle goal on the power play, they really seemed to button things down and play their game. When they kept out of the penalty box and just rolled their lines at even strength, they seemed to finally find some rhythm to their game.
And in terms of the picture of just this game, man, the Flames really grabbed hold of this hockey game in the early parts of the third period.
This and that
Martin Pospisil made his NHL debut and scored his first NHL goal in the first period. Nick DeSimone played his first game of the season, and fifth in his NHL career, and had his first NHL point on Sharangovich’s third period goal.
The Flames (3-7-1) are back in action on Tuesday evening when they host the Nashville Predators.
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