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Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames win see-saw battle against the Sabres

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Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
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The Calgary Flames did not have an easy evening at the office on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres. While the Flames never trailed in the game, the combination of too many penalties and a few too many defensive lapses led to the Flames surrendering the lead three times.
But the Flames got a fourth lead and held on for dear life, ultimately beating the Sabres by a 4-3 score.

The rundown

The Flames opened the scoring early in this game off a bit of a scrambly sequence. The Flames pressed off the opening face-off but the puck squirted out of a group of players to the point. Rasmus Andersson held the puck in and fired it into a crowd of players in front of the Buffalo net. Devon Levi made the initial save, but Jonathan Huberdeau chased down the rebound and his shot reflected off Levi’s pad and into the net to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, the Sabres drew even. The Flames were caught in their own end a little bit, the Sabres cycled the puck around the offensive zone, and Erik Johnson fired a shot from the left point – with a couple players screening Dan Vladar – that eluded the Flames’ netminder to make it 1-1.
But the Flames retook the lead a few minutes later off a great cycling and passing sequence by the fourth line in Buffalo’s zone. It ended with Walker Duehr firing a low shot that slipped through Levi’s pads and into the net to make it 2-1 Flames.
But the Flames kept taking penalties in the first period, which led to the Sabres drawing even on the power play. A few quick passes led to Tage Thompson firing a puck over top of a falling Vladar to tie things up at 2-2.
First period shots were 12-7 Flames (7-4 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 5-2 Flames (high-dangers were 3-1 Flames).
Neither team scored in the second, as both team weren’t great at executing on their passing plays.
Second period shots were 10-7 Flames (8-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-4 Flames (high-dangers were 5-2 Flames).
The Flames re-retook the lead early in the third period. Dennis Gilbert broke up a Sabres rush at the Flames’ blueline and joined the rush going the other way. He passed to Matt Coronato in the slot, and he fed the puck to Blake Coleman to Levi’s left, and his shot beat Levi to make it 3-2 Flames.
But right after that, the Sabres hemmed the Flames’ fourth line in their own end. Eventually, that cycling sequence ended when J.J. Peterka fired a pass from Dylan Cozens past Vladar to tie the game at 3-3.
But the Flames re-re-retook the lead a few minutes after that. The Flames had an initial scoring chance broken up, but Dillon Dube kept battling along the wall and won the puck away. Nazem Kadri passed to Adam Ruzicka from below the goal line and Ruzicka’s shot beat Levi to give the Flames a 4-3 lead.
The Sabres pressed late, but a too-many-men bench minor squashed any changes of a comeback and the Flames held on for a 4-3 victory.
Third period shots were 14-13 Flames (12-10 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-7 Sabres (high-dangers were 3-3).

Why the Flames won

On one hand, the Flames remain a work in progress in their own zone – both with and without the puck – and they took a lot of penalties that would be qualified as sloppy or lazy penalties to take. (If you don’t prevent a goal with a penalty, it’s probably not a good penalty.)
But the Flames are a team that has the capability to play smart, fast, puck-possession hockey. And when they stayed out of the box and played as a five-man unit, they were really good. They put together three or four minute chunks of this type of hockey, and they took over chunks of this game against a young, fast, talented Buffalo team.
The Flames were far from perfect in Buffalo, but they were good enough to win.
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Red Warrior

Y’know, we’re going for a joint award for the fourth line: Yegor Sharangovich, A.J. Greer and Walker Duehr. The trio were full of pep and energy and executed really well with the puck.

Turning point

The Flames’ go-ahead goal came just 1:21 after Buffalo tied the game up at 3-3, but it was exactly what the Flames needed from that line. Dube battled hard, Kadri made a great pass and Ruzicka buried the puck. It was a great bit of execution from key players at a key time, and it won them the game.

This and that

All four Flames forward lines scored at even strength.
A dump-in on Levi midway through the third period looked like it beat him and trickled over the net – his right pad booted it out, but the movement began behind the goal line. The play was called no-goal on the ice and was reviewed, but replays couldn’t definitively show the puck over the net.
Sharangovich and Greer registered their first points as Flames with assists on Duehr’s goal.
This was the first game where the Flames didn’t score a power play goal and the first game where they allowed a power play goal against. They’ve scored first in all four games this season.

Up next

The Flames (2-1-1) are back in action on Friday night when they visit Johnny Gaudreau and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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