Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames playoff hopes grounded by Jets

Photo credit:James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
The Calgary Flames needed a win against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday evening to stay mathematically alive in the playoff race. The Jets needed a win over the Flames to punch their ticket to the post-season.
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The Jets managed to get the job done, taking advantage of some lengthy special teams stretches to beat the Flames by a 5-2 score.

The rundown

The Flames had a much better start against the Jets than they did last time out against Anaheim, and they managed to open the scoring after drawing an early power play.
After winning the offensive zone draw, the Flames battled to maintain possession down low, then threw the puck to MacKenzie Weegar at the point. Weegar’s shot found a way through traffic, and past Connor Hellebuyck, to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
But the Flames got in penalty trouble and it led to the Jets gaining a lot of momentum. A pair of penalties – to Walker Duehr and Kevin Rooney – gave the Jets a five-on-three power play for 1:28.
The Flames managed to kill off the two-man advantage, but on the spill-over power play from the second minor, the Jets scored. Gabe Vilardi finished off a great passing play by redirecting a Kyle Connor pass into the net past Dustin Wolf to tie it up at 1-1.
Shortly after that, the Jets scored again. Less than two minutes after the tying goal, Cole Perfetti out-battled a couple Flames in their zone to win the puck, then passed it to Nikolaj Ehlers in the slot area. Ehlers’ shot beat Wolf to give the Jets a 2-1 lead.
First period shots were 17-8 Jets (13-7 Jets at five-on-five) and, via Natural Stat Trick, five-on-five scoring chances were 7-4 Jets (high-dangers were 5-1 Jets).
The Flames had a nice bit of push-back in the second period, and they managed to turn a really strong shift from the line of Martin Pospisil, Nazem Kadri and Andrei Kuzmenko into a tying goal. The line kept battling and winning the puck back, continuing a lengthy shift in the Winnipeg zone. The puck was cycled to Daniil Miromanov at the point, and his shot glanced off Neal Pionk and bounced past Hellebuyck to tie the game at 2-2.
But the Flames’ Nikita Okhotiuk took a late penalty and it allowed the Jets to score, albeit off a bit of a weird play. After a nice bit of passing Tyler Toffoli fired the puck on Wolf. Rasmus Andersson attempted to get his stick into the shooting lane… but it appears that his stick slightly deflected the puck under Wolf’s outstretched pad, then off Weegar’s skate in the crease and into the net to give Winnipeg a 3-2 lead.
Before the period ended, the Flames lost a player for the rest of the game after Pospisil was assessed a major penalty (and a game misconduct) for elbowing Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey. The penalty was reviewed by the officials and confirmed as a major – after seemingly some lobbying from Jets coach Rick Bowness to do so – and Pospisil was given the gate.
Second period shots were 16-15 Jets (13-11 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 13-9 Flames (high-dangers were 6-3 Flames).
The Flames killed off the remaining 4:17 of Pospisil’s major to begin the third period, but the Jets kept pressing.
Midway through the period, they got some insurance. Vilardi deflected a Morrissey shot on net. Wolf made a nice stop on the first chance, but Vilardi got his own rebound and batted it past Wolf to give the Jets a 4-2 advantage.
The Jets held on for the win, with Vilardi completing his hat-trick with an empty-netter to make it a 5-2 final.

Why the Flames lost

This was a much better game for the Flames than what we saw against Anaheim. They were pretty good at even strength. They battled. They managed the puck reasonably well. They did a good job making the Jets work for their opportunities at five-on-five. But they took penalties at really inopportune times, and the timing of the penalties they took really killed their in-game momentum.
When you’re leading or tied on the road, giving the home side free chances on the power play is a bad thing to do. If the Flames reeled in their penalties just a little bit, this game could have turned out differently.
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Red Warrior

Y’know what? Let’s go with Wolf. He faced a lot of shots from a really good Jets team, and it’s hard to say he let his team down in any way. The goals he allowed were a mixture of tips and tough lateral plays.
And let’s give a shout-out to Weegar, who had a great game and earned his 50th NHL goal and 200th NHL point in this outing.

Turning point

Take your pick between the five-on-three kill in the first period or the major kill to start the third period. Both really sapped the Flames’ momentum and put them on their heels.

This and that

Connor Zary was a healthy scratch for this game. Joel Hanley and Andrew Mangiapane also missed this game due to injuries.
Pospisil’s game misconduct was his fourth ejection of the season, including the pre-season. He was coincidentally also ejected from his last visit to Winnipeg during the exhibition schedule.

Up next

The Flames (34-36-5) are headed home. They’ll host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.

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