Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames grind out workmanlike win in Montreal
By Ryan Pike3 months ago
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There was nothing flashy about the sixty minutes of hockey the Calgary Flames played at Bell Centre in Montreal on Tuesday evening. But for three periods, in a tough road building, the Flames dug in their heels and went to work.
They managed to grind out one more goal than the Canadiens en route to a 2-1 victory to close out their three game eastern road trip.
The first period was quite eventful for one where neither team scored. The Canadiens were all over the Flames early, with Jacob Markstrom making a ton of strong saves early on. After that the Flames found their footing and the period ended up being fairly even shots and chances-wise overall, albeit a product of a flurry of activity at both nets.
First period shots were 14-10 Canadiens (all five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 14-10 Canadiens (high-dangers were 5-3 Canadiens).
The Flames opened the scoring early in the second period. Nazem Kadri got some speed through the neutral zone and battled his way past an attempted check by Christian Dvorak and barrelled his way into the Montreal zone. Kadri skated to the high slot, then spun and fired a shot past Samuel Montembeault to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
But just 17 seconds later, Montreal answered back. The Habs got the puck moving around down low in the Calgary zone. Gustav Lindstrom’s shot from low in the zone deflected off Rasmus Andersson (at the far post), off Jacob Markstrom and into the net to tie the game up at 1-1.
But with a few minutes left in the period, the Flames answered back off some great execution of a set play. Nazem Kadri won a face-off in the offensive zone, and that led to a bunch of rapid-fire passes. Rasmus Andersson pinched low into the zone, then fired a great low slap-pass to the other side of the crease, where Connor Zary laid his stick down for a nifty redirect to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
Second period shots were 11-11 (10-6 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-6 Flames (high-dangers were 3-2 Flames).
The third period was pretty tight-checking. The Flames thought they had extended their lead to two goals off an Andrew Mangiapane goal about five minutes into the period, but it was wiped out after a coach’s challenge due to Elias Lindholm being off-side on the preceding zone entry.
The two teams exchanged power plays late in the third period, but neither side could cash in, and the Flames managed to leave Montreal with a 2-1 victory.
Third period shots were 8-8 (6-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 4-1 Canadiens (high-dangers were 1-1).
Why the Flames won
All things considered, this might have been the most complete game the Flames have played on this road trip. They weren’t perfect: they gave up a few too many chances early on and had to be bailed out by Markstrom, and they took a few iffy penalties. But the Flames generally played a consistent, cohesive and composed style of hockey, and it gave them the platform to grind out a victory on the road in the final game of a road trip. It wasn’t pretty, but they played smart, picked their spots, and managed to get a big two points.
This isn’t the type of hockey game that will garner big headlines, fanfare or ballyhoo, but it may be the template of how the Flames need to play going forward to be effective.
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We’re going with Markstrom, as he was absolutely dialed-in and superb when the Flames made mistakes. He gave them exactly the type of performance in net that they needed on this occasion.
And stick-taps to the line of Zary, Kadri and Pospisil, who were also very, very good for the road team.
How many times have we seen the Flames crumble after a call went against them? Early in the third period, nursing a one goal lead, the Flames had a coach’s challenge (rightly) wipe out a potential Mangiapane goal. But rather than have a lull in their game or over-correct by doing too much, the Flames just kept plugging along and doing their thing.
This and that
With Jacob Markstrom starting for the Flames, it marks the first time in recent memory that the club has played a three game road trip and had a different goaltender start each game. (Dan Vladar started in Toronto and Dustin Wolf started in Ottawa.) We looked through Hockey Reference dating back to the 2003-04 season and we couldn’t find another instance of that happening.
The Flames (5-8-2) are headed back home. They’re back in action on Thursday night when they host the red-hot Vancouver Canucks.
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