Photo credit:Brett Holmes-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames close out 2023 with a victory over the Flyers
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
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The Calgary Flames hosted the Philadelphia Flyers to close out 2023 on Sunday night. It was a bit of a low-event game early, but it ended with a bit of a late-game frenzy. The Flames got out to a two-goal late in the third period and despite a late push from the Flyers, they never relinquished it.
The Flames beat the Flyers by a 4-3 score.
The opening period was fairly even, with the Flames gradually looking more and more dangerous in the offensive zone – but the Flyers were the squadron that opened the scoring.
Midway through the opening frame, the Flames had some trouble corralling a puck at their own blueline, leading to a bit of confusion and a turnover to Joel Farabee. Farabee threw the puck to Ryan Poehling, who made a very patient play, holding onto the puck until Rasmus Ristolainen snuck in from the puck completely unobstructed by anybody in a red jersey. Poehling puck a nifty pass past a sprawling MacKenzie Weegar right to Ristolainen, whose redirect beat Jacob Markstrom to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
First period shots were 12-8 Flames (12-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances (via Natural Stat Trick) were 9-5 Flames (high-danger chances were 4-2 Flames).
Neither team lit the lamp for much of the second period. Both teams had fairly decent chances either evaporate in the last 15 feet around the net, or get stopped – Samuel Ersson made a great stop on Elias Lindholm on a shorthanded two-on-one midway through the period.
But the Flames managed to draw even with 1:39 remaining on the clock. Mikael Backlund’s line got the puck into the Flyers’ zone and went to work, cycling, battling, and cycling some more. Eventually, Andrew Mangiapane found Backlund open in the high slot with a pass, and Backlund beat Ersson high glove-side to tie the game at 1-1.
Second period shots were 11-10 Flyers (8-7 Flyers at five-on-five) and five-on-five-scoring chances were 10-9 Flames (high-dangers were 5-3 Flyers).
The Flames pulled ahead in the third period.
Midway through the period, Blake Coleman carried the puck into the Flyers zone but lost his footing and toppled to the ice after some contact with a Flyers defender. Jonathan Huberdeau zipped in, corralled the loose puck, and found Dennis Gilbert sneaking in from the point. Gilbert’s shot beat Ersson to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
Later in the period, the Flames got some insurance while skating four-on-four – Ersson was called for delay of game, off-set shortly afterward by a Weegar minor. The Flames lost a defensive zone draw, but they won the battle for the loose puck and broke out. Nazem Kadri carried the puck into the zone on a two-on-one and opted the shoot, beating Ersson short-side to make it a 3-1 game.
But the Flyers got one back with just over three minutes remaining. They pulled Ersson for the extra attacker and Cam Atkinson’s initial shot was stopped by Markstrom, but the rebound went right to Bobby Brink at the edge of the crease and he batted it into the open net to cut the Calgary lead to 3-2.
Coleman added an empty-netter to make it 4-2 Flames. Egor Zamula fired a point shot through traffic with 1:22 that just beat Markstrom inside the post to cut the lead to 4-3 Flames. Despite a bit of a late frenzy by the Flyers, the Flames held on to win it.
Third period shots were 12-12 (7-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 6-5 Flames (high-dangers were 2-1 Flyers).
Why the Flames won
This was a pretty Flamesy hockey game to close out the 2023 calendar year.
- They allowed the opening goal.
- They generally played quite well, but they made some poorly-timed defensive miscues.
- They got some of their best offensive looks of the game while shorthanded.
- They made a lot of good offensive plays that found ways to evaporate in the last 12 feet in front of the net.
But the Flames also battled hard, especially as the game wore on. The Flyers faded, the Flames maintained their pace, and the Flames were able to pull away in the third period… and then hold on for dear life late.
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We’re gonna give it collectively to the Mangiapane, Coleman and Backlund line. They were excellent.
And give some love to Markstrom, who was strong when the game was close, and Huberdeau, who was superb in the offensive zone.
Let’s go with Gilbert’s goal. It gave the Flames a multi-goal lead and while the Flyers kept chipping away at it, they never fully gave it up.
This and that
This was Blake Coleman’s 500th career NHL game.
Backlund’s second period goal was his 510th point with the Flames, passing Mark Giordano for ninth on the club’s all-time leaderboard. It was also his 142nd even-strength goal as a Flame, tying Hakan Loob for 10th all-time.
The Flames (15-16-5) are headed back on the road to kick off 2024. They head to the Twin Cities for a game with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
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