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Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames fend off the Devils in chaotic game

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Photo credit:John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
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The Calgary Flames headed to Newark on Thursday evening for their annual visit to the New Jersey Devils. The Flames and Devils played three pretty energetic periods of hockey, with both teams getting some good scoring chances and scoring some impressive goals.
In a back-and-forth, frenzied hockey game, the Flames held on to win by a 5-3 score.

The rundown

The Devils carried play for much of the first half of the first period, getting a lot of good scoring chances while the Flames just couldn’t get much going in the offensive zone. The Flames managed to get things going in the back half of the period, but the Devils scored first on a really nice counter-punch play.
Andrew Mangiapane went into the Devils’ zone but his scoring chance was countered by Nico Hischier, who threw the puck up-ice to create an odd-man rush with Chris Tanev defending against Jesper Bratt and Ondrej Palat. Uh-oh. Palat’s shot (on a pass from Bratt) beat Jacob Markstrom off the rush to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.
But the Flames got that one back before the period ended. Mangiapane and Blake Coleman won a battle below the goal line, leading to a Mangiapane pass behind the net to Mikael Backlund, who was parked straddling the goal line to Vitek Vanecek’s left. Backlund received the pass and fired it on net as Vanecek moved right to left, with the puck bonking off Vanecek and beating him inside the post to tie the game at 1-1.
First period shots were 12-10 Devils (all five-on-five) and, via Natural Stat Trick, five-on-five scoring chances were 10-8 Devils (high-dangers were 4-0 Devils).
The second period was similarly back-and-forth as the first period, just with far more high-danger chances. Each team got big chances, and second chances. And sometimes third chances. Both goaltenders had to be sharp.
The lone second period goal was an odd one. Nazem Kadri fired a shot that Vanecek stopped. Well, mostly. It trickled through the netminder’s pads and landed behind him in the blue paint. Connor Zary, going to the net to pick up any scraps, picked up the scraps and slid the loose puck into the Devils’ net to make it 2-1 Flames.
Second period shots were 11-9 Devils (10-8 Devils at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-7 Flames (high-dangers were 7-5 Flames).
The Flames got a bit of insurance early in the third period. The fourth line did a good job entering the Devils zone and retrieving the puck on the forecheck, with Kevin Rooney crashing and banging below the goal line. That led to a cycle play, with the puck getting funnelled to the point and Noah Hanifin pinching down below the goal line. Hanifin chucked the puck on net, and Rooney, parked around the crease jammed in the rebound to make it 3-1 Flames.
Shortly after, Chris Tanev was clipped by a high stick, giving the Flames a four-minute power play. Unfortunately, the only offence during that stretch was New Jersey’s. Andrei Kuzmenko, at the left point, had the puck knocked away by Bratt. Hischier raced into the neutral zone, retrieved the puck, and beat Markstrom on a breakaway rush chance (glove-side) to cut Calgary’s lead to 3-2.
But about five minutes later, the Flames answered back. Nazem Kadri battled to win a puck in the Devils zone, allowing Zary to throw the puck to the point to Hanifin. Hanifin’s shot on net was stopped by Vanecek, but Kuzmenko got to the rebound first, then spun and fired it into the Devils’ goal to give the Flames a 4-2 lead.
But the Devils answered back to draw back within one. The Devils executed a high-low sequence well, entering the zone and throwing the puck back to the point. Colin Miller’s point shot was deflected by Palat, just beating out Brayden Pachal in front for position, and the puck got behind Markstrom to cut the Flames’ lead to 4-3.
Mangiapane added an empty-netter late in regulation to give the Flames a 5-3 lead. That was enough for the victory.
Third period shots were 17-10 Devils (12-9 Devils at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-5 Devils (high-dangers were 4-3 Devils).

Why the Flames won

The Flames weren’t nearly as buttoned-up in terms of the details of their game as they were on Tuesday in Boston. As a result, this game got a bit run-and-gun and resembled river hockey at times. The coaches on both sides were probably less than pleased, but it resulted in a pretty entertaining 60 minutes of sports.
The Flames were just a little bit better than the Devils, particularly in net, and while things were a bit nervous for both teams at times, the Flames got a little bit more out of their group than the Devils did. The Devils’ top guys were better than Calgary’s, but Calgary’s contributions from their goaltender and their lineup overall were enough to get the win.
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Red Warrior

Markstrom was busy and very good in this game, so he gets the nod.
But also worthy of praise were the usual suspects: Kadri, Pospisil and Zary, especially among forwards, and Hanifin and Tanev on the blueline.

Turning point

Let’s go with, well, the third period. The Flames entered the third with a one goal lead on the road. And while the Devils definitely made life difficult for the Flames, the road team never wilted or collapsed, and kept battling back after the Devils made their pushes.
It wasn’t a pretty final 20 minutes, but you could argue that it was a character-building period for this group.

This and that

This was the 800th regular season NHL game for Jonathan Huberdeau.
The Devils put together a tribute video for Yegor Sharangovich, which aired during a first period stoppage.

Up next

The Flames (24-22-5) are headed to Long Island! They visit the New York Islanders in a matinee on Saturday.

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