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Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames suffer shootout loss to Maple Leafs in highly entertaining game

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
3 months ago
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If you’re a fan of a certain style of hockey, Friday night’s meeting between the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs was probably right up your alley. If you wanted tight-checking, physical hockey, you were probably disappointed. But if you wanted speed, chaos, end-to-end rushes, and goals aplenty, you probably loved it.
In a real entertaining few hours of hockey where defence was seemingly completely optional, the Flames lost to the Maple Leafs by a 5-4 score in a shootout.

The rundown

The game was just getting going before Flames forward A.J. Greer was called for holding in the neutral zone. On the ensuing power play, Yegor Sharangovich almost disrupted a William Nylander zone entry… but neither Sharangovich or Rasmus Andersson could grab the loose puck. Nylander muscled his way between them, got the puck and fired it past Dan Vladar in the Flames net to give the Leafs a power play goal and a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, though, the Flames answered back. Nazem Kadri caused a Leafs turnover and led the rush into the Leafs’ zone. Kadri fed Connor Zary on the right wing. Zary’s initial shot was stopped by Joseph Woll, but Zary chased down his own rebound and chipped it past Woll to tie the game at 1-1.
Just 1:17 later, the Leafs retook the lead. The Leafs went in on a two-on-two rush. However, Calle Jarnkrok came in as the third man in the zone (and beat out his cousin, Elias Lindholm, for position) and took a pass and backhanded it past Vladar to make it 2-1 Leafs. Vladar was sliding left-to-right and Jarnkrok put it just past him on the left, inside the post.
Shots were 11-8 Flames (10-6 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-7 (high-dangers were 4-3 Flames).
The Flames began the second period on the power play, with a Leafs penalty carrying over from the end of the first period. It, uh, didn’t go well. Noah Hanifin had the puck stolen from him in the neutral zone by Nylander, and on the ensuing odd-man rush against Andersson he fired a shot that beat Vladar under his arm to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.
A few minutes later, the Leafs got the puck in the Flames’ zone and cycled the puck. Eventually, Nylander made a beautiful no-look pass from below the Calgary goal line and found John Tavares in the slot. Tavares made his shot count, beating Vladar with a quick shot to give Toronto a 4-1 lead.
But soon after, the Flames responded. They entered the Toronto zone and Nikita Zadorov’s attempted point shot hit Andrew Mangiapane’s skates and went wide. Zadorov chased down the loose puck and ripped a shot that beat Woll to cut the lead to 4-2 Leafs.
Just past the midway mark of the second, the Flames scored again to inch closer. This time, the fourth line got the puck in the Toronto zone and got to work battling and cycling. They fed the puck to MacKenzie Weegar at the point. His shot was tipped by Greer past Woll to cut the Leafs’ lead to 4-3.
Second period shots were 14-8 Maple Leafs (12-8 Maple Leafs at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-8 (high-dangers were 5-1 Maple Leafs).
A few minutes into the third period, the Flames pulled even. The third line cycled the puck and after a Blake Coleman shot was stopped, both Mikael Backlund and Martin Pospisil took whacks at it. Pospisil’s whack went five-hole and in on Woll to tie the game up at 4-4.
The rest of the third period solved nothing, so this game required extra time.
Third period shots were 12-3 Maple Leafs (all at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 13-4 Maple Leafs (high-dangers were 5-3 Maple Leafs).
The game remained back and forth in overtime. Mangiapane had a breakaway with a minute left in overtime but Woll made a big stop. Shots in overtime were 6-3 Flames, but none of them beat the goaltenders and so this game required a shootout.
In the shootout, Mitch Marner and Max Domi scored for the Leafs while Yegor Sharangovich scored for the Flames, and so this game ended as a 5-4 Leafs victory.

Why the Flames got a point

In a lot of ways, this game felt like the Heritage Classic in terms of how the Flames played. The Flames started slow and figured themselves out as the game wore on. They probably were the better even strength time overall, and when they were able to just roll their lines and utilize their forecheck, they were really effective.
Yeah, they need to tidy up their play in their own end and limit their turnovers. And their special teams need to be cleaned up, too. But the shape of their game has come a long, long way over the last little while and they’re starting to get rewarded for it.
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Red Warrior

Let’s give it to Zary. His line was jumping all evening long. And he was a much-needed spark for a Flames team that needed something to get them going in the first period. In four NHL games thus far, #47 has been consistently noticeable for positive reasons.
And let’s give props to Vladar. The Flames didn’t get much-needed game-saving stops in the first two periods from him, but they definitely got them in the third period with the game all tied up.

Turning point

Let’s go with that goal-mouth scramble with the game tied in the third period where Vladar somehow managed to keep the puck out. If Vladar’s not as sharp as he was in the third period, this game probably ends as a Leafs regulation win.

This and that

This was the annual Hockey Hall of Fame game! The induction class of 2023 was introduced before the game, including longtime Flames netminder Mike Vernon. (The Flames all wore Vernon jerseys during warm-up.)
This was MacKenzie Weegar’s 400th NHL game.
Zadorov crushed Tyler Bertuzzi with a big hit in the third period.
The Flames unveiled new-look power play units:
  • First unit: Andersson – Zary – Kadri – Lindholm – Ruzicka
  • Second unit: Hanifin – Weegar – Mangiapane – Backlund – Huberdeau

Up next

The Flames (4-7-2) are back at it on Saturday! They head to Ottawa immediately where they’ll face the Senators in the early game on Hockey Night in Canada.

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