Photo credit:Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames continue their winning ways on Long Island
By Ryan Pike11 days ago
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The Calgary Flames played their fifth matinee game of the 2023-24 season on Saturday against the New York Islanders. The Flames scored first and largely played a smart, composed, structured road game, aside from a few minor hiccups.
The Flames ran their winning streak to four games thanks to a 5-2 win over the Islanders.
The Flames hit the scoresheet within the first four minutes of this hockey game! MacKenzie Weegar went for a skate into the Islanders’ end, and their defenders seemed completely happy to let him wander around the perimeter. Weegar skated to the top of the circles, to the left of netminder Semyon Varlamov, and fired a shot that beat Varlamov stick-side, just inside the far post, to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
The Islanders thought they tied the game on a weird dump-in play on a delayed off-side, but it was challenged and quickly overturned.
First period shots were 8-6 Flames (all five-on-five) and, via Natural Stat Trick, five-on-five scoring chances were 7-6 Islanders (high-dangers were 3-0 Islanders).
The Islanders pushed back a bit in the second period, but the Flames managed to defend pretty well and avoid giving the Islanders too many grade-A scoring chances.
About midway through the frame, Martin Pospisil drew a tripping penalty as he barrelled into the Islanders zone. About a minute into the resulting Flames power play, the visitors doubled their lead. Yegor Sharangovich fired a one-timer shot and Varlamov made a stop, but booted a rebound into the net-front area. Andrei Kuzmenko took a swipe at it, missed it, but Jonathan Huberdeau corralled the loose puck and fired it past Varlamov to give the Flames a 2-0 lead.
Later in the period, the Flames cashed in again, this time off a nice bit of puck management down low by the fourth line. Kevin Rooney went for a skate deep in the Islanders zone. He was tied up by some Islanders defenders below the goal line, but Jakob Pelletier grabbed the puck and went to set up Walker Duehr near the slot. The feed glanced off his stick… and went to the high slot for a pinching Weegar, who powered the puck past Varlamov to make it a 3-0 Flames lead.
Second period shots were 13-13 (13-10 Islanders at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-6 Flames (high-dangers were 3-2 Flames).
The Islanders spoiled Jacob Markstrom’s shutout bid early in the third period. They got the cycle going in the offensive zone, with Brock Nelson circling to the point and creating a ton of traffic between him and Markstrom in the process. Unsurprisingly, the Flames ‘tender didn’t really see the shot, which beat him high to cut the Calgary lead to 3-1.
Blake Coleman stole the puck off a defensive zone face-off and added an empty-netter late in the third period to give the Flames a 4-1 lead.
Markstrom tried to fire on the Islanders’ empty net – from his own end – twice. The second time it led to a turnover and some chaos in the Flames end, resulting in Jean-Gabriel Pageau scoring on a goal-mouth scramble to cut Calgary’s lead to 4-2.
Weegar scored an empty-netter, Calgary’s second of the game, to complete his first career hat trick and cement a 5-2 victory for the Flames.
Third period shots were 18-3 Islanders (5-1 Islanders at five-on-five) and five-on-five-scoring chances were 8-2 Islanders (high-dangers were 3-0 Islanders).
Why the Flames won
The Flames were equal parts opportunistic and structurally effective in this game. They scored timely goals. They got timely saves. When they were stuck in their own zone, they did a good job using good structure to keep the Islanders to the outside and giving Markstrom time and space to make initial saves and deal with rebounds.
And for yet another game, the Flames were a hockey potluck: all three defensive pairings and four forward lines seemed to contribute something positive to the proceedings. Nobody had a monster game necessarily – Weegar’s two goals were a product of him knowing where to be and making smart decisions in the moment – but the accumulation of a bunch of small positive things contributed by 18 skaters and their goaltender resulted in a favourable outcome.
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Let’s give it to Weegar, who scored a hat-trick. But stick-taps to Markstrom, who was really effective when the Flames needed him to be.
The Islanders had a nice push in the second period, but Huberdeau’s power play goal gave the Flames some breathing room and really seemed to take the wind out of the home side’s sails until the third period.
This and that
Jacob Markstrom registered his league-leading fourth assist (by a goaltender) on Weegar’s first goal.
With his three-goal afternoon, Weegar now leads the NHL in goals by a defenceman.
The Flames (25-22-5) have one game remaining on their trip, and it’s in Manhattan! They face the New York Rangers on Monday night in Madison Square Garden.
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