Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames feast on Predators, remain unbeaten in 2024
By Ryan Pike1 month ago
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After starting off 2024 on a good foot on Tuesday in Minnesota, the Calgary Flames continued a stretch of pretty good play and pretty good results. Despite some foibles and miscues, the Flames played a really solid road game in Nashville on Thursday evening.
The Flames never trailed en route to a 6-3 victory over the Predators.
After a scrambly first few minutes, the Flames got an eventful first period going offensively on the power play just shy of five minutes into this contest.
With Michael McCarron in the box, the Flames had an initial goal-mouth scramble result in, somehow, no goal. However, they kept possession of the puck and, with Elias Lindholm parked in front, Connor Zary’s shot from Juuse Saros’ right beat the netminder to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
Just 27 seconds later, the Flames cashed in again. Mikael Backlund’s line battled for a puck along the boards. Backlund won a battle, fed the puck to Blake Coleman, near the top of the circle, and his shot from Saros’ right wobbled in off the netminder’s glove to give Calgary a 2-0 advantage.
But the Predators answered back slightly later. Nashville got the puck below the dots in the Flames zone. Ryan O’Reilly received a pass from below the goal line and put a puck on net. The rebound bounced into the net-front area and Filip Forsberg flew in and batted in the loose puck to cut Calgary’s lead to 2-1.
A little later, though, the Flames answered back. Nazem Kadri went in on a two-on-one, alongside Zary. Zary made the choice to use his body positioning on the rush to block Luke Evangelista from getting into the rush. Kadri deked around a defender attempting a slide-block and fired the puck past Saros to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.
Colton Sissons cut the lead to 3-2 later on in the first period. Lindholm couldn’t hold onto a puck in the defensive zone, leading to a turnover and point shot from Dante Fabbro that Sissons got some lumber on to redirect past Dan Vladar.
But just after that, the Flames answered back, this time during some four-on-four play. Zary entered the offensive zone with speed, then passed off to Rasmus Andersson. Andersson pinched, cut around both Predators defenders and chucked a back-hander past Saros to give the Flames a 4-2 lead.
First period shots were 11-10 Flames (7-5 Predators at five-on-five) and, via Natural Stat Trick, five-on-five scoring chances were 9-7 Predators (high-dangers were 4-4).
The second period was fairly back-and-forth, but the only goal was scored in the final second.
Vladar made a sprawling save on Nashville at one end, and the Flames moved the puck up the ice as some Predators players went for a change. The Flames players opted to try to score… and they did. Andrew Mangiapane found a pinching Noah Hanifin sneaking in back-door and he chipped a cross-slot pass past Saros to give the Flames a 5-2 lead.
Second period shots were 15-9 Flames (9-8 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 11-11 (high-dangers were 6-2 Flames).
Nashville got one back early in the third period. Martin Pospisil blew a tire and turned over the puck in the Predators zone after clashing skates with an official, leading to a Nashville rush the other way. Michael McCarron threw the puck on net from the Flames’ blueline and Vladar misplayed it with his blocker in mid-air, accidentally knocking it into his own net. Whoops. That cut the lead to 5-3.
But another goaltender miscue at the other end of the ice got the Flames that goal back. Kevin Lankinen, who replaced Saros after the second period, went behind his net to play a loose puck. But he didn’t notice Lindholm forechecking behind him, leading to a turnover and Lindholm putting the puck out front for Yegor Sharangovich with a wide-open net. His tap-in made it 6-3 Flames.
The Flames held on for a 6-3 victory.
Third period shots were 15-4 Predators (15-9 Predators at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 12-5 Predators (high-dangers were 8-1 Predators).
Why the Flames won
Did the Flames play a perfect 60 minutes of hockey? Nope. They were a bit leaky defensively, and the third Nashville goal is going to give poor Dan Vladar nightmares for a few days.
But the Flames did a tremendous job making Nashville miserable. They forechecked. They made plays. They extended shifts with smart passes. They did a really nice job playing a smart, structured road game, and when the game got a bit scrambly they leaned on their structure to calm things down a bit.
Quite simply, the Flames were better than Nashville for much of this game. Take away a couple Flames miscues and this game isn’t all that close.
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A lot of players on the road side had good outings. I’m gonna give a joint award to Blake Coleman and Connor Zary. These guys were really honed in on the details of their games, and it led to some scoring chances and overall strong outings for each of their lines.
Man, that late second period goal was the epitome of kicking your opponent while they’re down. A lot of teams may have just dumped the puck into the Nashville end from the neutral zone and ran out the clock. Instead, the Flames went for the gut-punch, and it gave them a lot of breathing room headed into the third period.
Savage. Absolutely savage.
This and that
Dennis Gilbert left the game with 5:30 remaining in the third period after landing pretty hard on his back (and back-of-head) after a slewfoot by Predators forward Philip Tomasino. He was helped off the ice by his teammates and didn’t return. Tomasino was ejected from the game after being assessed a match penalty for clipping.
With this victory, the Flames are back above the .500 mark for the first time since Oct. 19, when they were 2-1-1. (On Oct. 20, they lost to Columbus and dropped back to .500.)
The Flames (17-16-5) finish off their road trip with a back-to-back set of matinees this weekend. They visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday morning – 11 a.m. MT puck drop.
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