Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames beat Sharks (again) in defence-optional outing
By Ryan Pike1 year ago
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The Calgary Flames were quite good offensively on Tuesday night in San Jose. Neither team was particularly locked down defensively, which made the game surprisingly entertaining and prone to big swings.
The Flames frittered away a pair of two-goal leads, but they battled back for a 7-3 victory over the Sharks.
The Flames scored early, and often, scoring twice in the first 30 seconds of the game after forcing a pair of ugly turnovers with simple hustle and a smart, direct forecheck.
15 seconds in, the Flames made it 1-0. Matt Benning attempted a pass out of the zone. It was blocked by a pinching Noah Hanifin inside the blueline and the puck was corralled by Elias Lindholm. Lindholm passed down low to Dillon Dube, and Dube fed Tyler Toffoli in the slot for a no-doubter that beat James Reimer to give them a 1-0 cushion on the very first shift of the game.
On the same shift, the Flames scored again, just 15 seconds later. Off a dump-in, Erik Karlsson was pursued by Dube and threw the puck up the boards on an exit attempt. The puck was intercepted by Toffoli. He fed the puck to Lindholm, who shuffled it back to Dube. Dube waited out Reimer and then tucked the puck into the wide-open net to make it 2-0 Flames.
Later in the period, the Sharks got one back. Michael Stone threw a no-look pass behind the net to Nikita Zadorov. It hit Zadorov in the skates and bounced to the corner. Timo Meier chased it down and threw it to the front of the net, where Nico Sturm redirected it past Jacob Markstrom to cut Calgary’s lead to 2-1. Whoops.
First period shots were 12-9 Flames (11-6 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 11-6 Flames (high-dangers were 5-2 Flames).
The Flames controlled play for much of the second period, and extended their lead midway through the frame.
The fourth line pressed in the Sharks zone and got a scoring chance. Reimer made the initial save, but in the process slid way out of the net and couldn’t freeze the puck. Karlsson made a key clear during a scramble in front of the vacant net, but the Flames regrouped in the neutral zone and headed back into the offensive zone. Adam Ruzicka’s shot from the face-off dot to Reimer’s left was booted out into the slot, where Trevor Lewis buried the rebound to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.
But a bad change and a broken play gave the Sharks a little bit of daylight. A few Flames headed to the bench and the Sharks hit their zone with numbers. Scott Harrington went to fire the puck from the high slot, but he whiffed on the shot and the puck dribbled to Alexander Barabanov to Markstrom’s right. Markstrom, who was set for Harrington’s shot, was caught a bit off-kilter and Barabanov chipped the puck past him to cut the lead to 3-2 Flames.
Second period shots were 12-5 Flames (9-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-5 Flames (high-dangers were 3-3).
The Sharks tied the game up four minutes into the third period. Chris Tanev attempted a pass up the boards in the defensive zone, but Meier got his stick into the lane and the puck blooped over to Karlsson. Meier rotated to the high slot and blasted a feed from Karlsson past Markstrom (through a few bodies) to tie the game at 3-3.
The Flames killed off a Milan Lucic penalty, then he jumped back onto the ice for a sequence that featured both teams getting scoring chances off the rush. Markstrom made a big stop at one end and Jonathan Huberdeau sent the Flames down the ice into the Sharks zone. Nazem Kadri and Lucic executed a quick give-and-go off the zone entry, ending up with a wide-open Kadri sniping a shot past Reimer to give Calgary a 4-3 lead.
Late in the third, the Flames got some insurance. The Sharks got a scoring chance in the Flames zone, but Markstrom made a big stop and play headed up ice. Huberdeau strode into the zone and passed off to Lucic by the face-off dot to Reimer’s left. Lucic’s shot hit Reimer and trickled in to give the Flames a 5-3 lead.
Toffoli added a late empty-netter to make it 6-3. 20 seconds later, Kadri beat Reimer five-hole to give the Flames a 7-3 victory.
Third period shots were 15-13 Flames (14-9 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-8 Flames (high-dangers were 5-4 Flames).
Why the Flames won
If we’re being honest here, friends, this game wasn’t as close as the scoreboard indicated. The Flames controlled large stretches of this game. But, as has become tradition, sometimes their miscues resulted in goals against. Heck, two of the three Sharks goals were directly off turnovers (and the other one was a weird goal off a bad change and a broken play).
The Sharks were out-gunned in this one. When the Flames executed on their offensive plays, they were quite good. But the defensive looseness that defines the Sharks this season was seemingly contagious, as the Flames looked pretty uncoordinated in their own zone at times and were prone to miscommunications, turnovers and general sloppiness.
But the Flames were able to overcome that sloppiness to get two sorely-needed points.
Let’s go with Lindholm. He had a pair of assists and was superb at the face-off dot throughout this game.
Let’s also tip our collective caps to Toffoli, Dube, Lucic, Kadri and Huberdeau. Heck, Markstrom made some big stops when the game was close.
The Flames killing off Lucic’s minor in a tie game was big. Them scoring soon after his penalty expired, with Lucic getting the primary assist via a slick pass, was even bigger.
This and that
The rapid-fire opening goals set a Flames franchise record!
(It’s also tied for the 5th-fastest pair of goals to open a game in NHL history.)
Brett Ritchie fought Sturm in the first period.
The Flames (15-12-6) are headed south. They face the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
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