Calgary Flames Post-Game: After tough first, Flames skewer Sabres for one-sided win

Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
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The Calgary Flames are a weird team. Sometimes they look very beatable. Sometimes they look incredible. Sometimes they look like both teams in the same game. That was the case on Saturday afternoon in Buffalo where the Flames looked fairly average through one period, and then rattled off seven unanswered goals to beat a good Sabres team by a 7-2 score.

The rundown

Despite a good start to the game shot-wise, the Flames got behind the eight-ball midway through the first period. With Brett Ritchie in the penalty box, Tage Thompson leaned into a shot from Jacob Markstrom’s right on the power play that was wired over his shoulder to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead.
The Sabres doubled their lead a little bit later. The Sabres entered the zone and Casey Mittelstadt received a pass from Victor Olofsson, held onto the puck and skated backwards down towards the face-off dot. His release was deceptive, but with no screens or bodies crossing the field of vision, his shot simply beat Markstrom stick-side to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead.
But the Flames roared back in the second period. Jakob Pelletier got his first NHL goal off a really smart breakout play by Jonathan Huberdeau, a really nice pass to the slot area by Nazem Kadri, and a lot of hustle by Pelletier to get a step on Olofsson, receive the pass, and beat Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stick-side to cut Buffalo’s lead to 2-1.
20 seconds later, Mikael Backlund tied the game. The Backlund line drove into the zone and Backlund scored off the rush. They were announcing Pelletier’s goal while this happened, and that tied the game at 2-2.
A minute and change after the game was tied up, the Flames took the lead. Dillon Dube made a nice drop-pass to a pinching Dennis Gilbert, and Gilbert’s shot beat Luukkonen low to give the Flames a 3-2 lead.
The Flames made it 4-2 midway through the period after Kadri redirected a Chris Tanev point shot past Luukkonen. Huberdeau did a lot of nice puck retrieval and protection work prior to this goal, and got credited with a secondary assist on the play.
The Flames added a pair in the third period for insurance.
Off a rush play, Dube found Tyler Toffoli at the far post and set him up with a nice pass for a redirection goal. (The puck went off Toffoli’s stick, off the post, off Luukkonen’s left skate and into the net.) That made it 5-2.
Toffoli added a power play goal later in the third period to make it 6-2.
Dube scored late in the third period off a nice set-up pass from Elias Lindholm to make it 7-2.
The Flames held on for a 7-2 victory.

Why the Flames won

The Flames weren’t bad in the first period, but they also weren’t all that good. They couldn’t do much defensively or offensively, and they just hung around.
But they were excellent in the final two periods, scoring seemingly at will and also playing very solid away from the puck. After the potential emotional low of being down 2-0 after one period, they did a great job of regrouping and just doing a lot of little things well in the second period, and it snowballed from there into a ton of goals.

Red Warrior

Let’s give it jointly to the Kadri, Pelletier and Huberdeau line. They were buzzing, and really gave the Flames a much-needed boost in the second period.
Dube was also very good, and really sparked his line.

Turning point

Take your pick:
  • Two goals in 20 seconds to tie the game
  • Three goals in 1:47 to take the lead
  • Four goals in 5:22 to give themselves some insurance
The second period swung the game.

This and that

The 23 shots the Flames registered in the second period is tied for the second-most they’ve gotten in a period all season, and the eighth time they’ve registered 20 or more shots in one period in 2022-23.
15 of the Flames’ 18 skaters had positive plus/minus ratings in the game. (Sitting at even: Ritchie, Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis). 15 of their skaters registered shots on goal. (No shots from Huberdeau, Lucic and Tanev.)

Up next

The Flames (25-18-10) are off to Ottawa. They finish off their road trip on Monday night against the Senators.

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