Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames can’t quite overcome injuries, penalties and the Habs
Photo credit:David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
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The Calgary Flames headed to Montreal on Monday evening to play their third road game in four nights. The Flames did not play a perfect game, but they hung around and rode a strong performance by their goaltender to capture what could be a key point.
The Flames lost to the Canadiens in a shootout by a 2-1 score.
The first period featured a bunch of shots back and forth, but not a ton of high-quality chances. Montreal had two power plays and looked really dangerous on their second advantage, while the Flames had one power play and didn’t generate a lot.
First period shots were 13-11 Canadiens (9-9 at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-5 Canadiens (high-dangers were 2-1 Canadiens).
The second period featured all kinds of penalties back and forth, with just 9:29 of five-on-five time in the frame. Mid-period, the Flames managed to cash in on a truncated power play.
On the advantage, Nazem Kadri’s shot from the right side of the slot was stopped. Mikael Backlund’s shot from in front was stopped. But Jonathan Huberdeau got the rebound on the left side and elevated it past Jake Allen to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
The Flames killed off 1:40 of a five-on-three Canadiens power play after a pair of penalties from Noah Hanifin and Nikita Zadorov. But after the kill, there was a scary moment as Chris Tanev blocked a Montreal shot with the side of his head. He was down for awhile but got up and was helped off the ice.
Second period shots were 18-8 Flames (9-2 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-2 Flames (and high-dangers were 4-1 Flames).
Montreal tied things up early in the third period. The Habs hemmed the Flames pairing of Zadorov and Michael Stone in their own end, and took advantage of some nice puck movement to create a bit of passing room. That allowed Juraj Slafkovsky to put a really nice pass on the tape of Josh Anderson in the net front area, and Anderson beat Markstrom in-close to deadlock the game at 1-1.
The Flames had a golden scoring chance after Zadorov stood up Jordan Harris inside the Flames’ blueline, which sent Kadri and Dillon Dube in on a two-on-zero rush. But they passed a little too much and couldn’t get a good shot off.
But neither team could find a second goal in regulation, so this game required extra time.
Third period shots were 10-6 Canadiens (10-5 Canadiens at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-6 Canadiens (high-dangers were 5-3 Canadiens).
Toffoli was called for a high-sticking double-minor in overtime, but the Flames managed to kill off those penalties.
In the shootout, Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach scored for Montreal and Huberdeau scored for Calgary, and the Canadiens won the game 2-1.
Why the Flames got a point
Folks, there was a lot of adversity surrounding this game, and the Flames managed to weather the storm for the most part:
- The Flames were missing two big-minutes players in Elias Lindholm and MacKenzie Weegar, and lost Tanev midway through the game.
- The Flames, bless ’em, just keep taking penalties. Montreal had seven power plays in this game, and it’s hard to look at the calls against them and argue that most of them weren’t clear penalties. Seven kills per game is just way too much.
- Finally, the Habs are a scrappy young team that is playing fast and loose and without the weight of internal or external expectations. They’re a fast, dangerous team.
And the Flames’ overall game had the same warts that it’s had all season: they’re a positionally sound hockey club, but their players have struggled with execution with the puck at times this season. They absolutely needed a skater to be an offensive difference-maker in this game, the final game of this road trip, but instead the only truly outstanding performance was from their goaltender. If they get a little bit more from their shooters, they get two points.
11 days after declaring that he sucked at hockey following a tough loss to Montreal, Markstrom was excellent for his club in the rematch with the Canadiens. He made 37 saves and decidedly did not suck.
There’s a couple special teams performances that did a lot to give the Flames a chance here. The first was the 1:40 of a two-man advantage for Montreal that the Flames managed to survive. Then, in overtime, the penalty kill had to kill off a four minute high-sticking double minor and managed to do so.
If the PK is anything less than perfect in those two instances, the game takes a dramatically different turn.
This and that
The Flames were without Elias Lindholm (upper-body injury) and MacKenzie Weegar (non-COVID illness), so Brett Ritchie and Connor Mackey entered the lineup. This seemed to set the tone, as a lot of players were injured or missed time due to injury evaluations:
- Mackey fought Michael Pezzetta in the first period and briefly went to the back for a concussion evaluation after getting drilled on the chin by Pezzetta, but he returned to start the second period.
- Tanev left the game after blocking that shot with his head in the second period and didn’t return.
- Nazem Kadri got clipped upside the head by Nick Suzuki late in the second period – based on replays, Kadri either was pushed by Arber Xhejai into Suzuki’s path or thinks he was, because he was steamed about it afterwards – and Kadri left the game for concussion evaluation as well, but returned to start the third period.
The Flames (13-11-5) are headed home. They host the Vancouver Canucks at the Saddledome on Wednesday night.
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