Calgary Flames Post-Game: Locals exorcise the Devils
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike8 months ago
After making a significant trade addition a little earlier, the Calgary Flames played a game on Wednesday night. The Flames hosted the New Jersey Devils, who were playing their second game in as many nights. The Devils were full marks for effort on this occasion, but they were simply out-gunned by a much deeper Flames team.
The Flames skated to a 6-3 home victory over the Devils.
The Flames opened the scoring in the first period off a nice bit of cycle play from the new-look fourth line. Some nice passing across the zone from Oliver Kylington and Dillon Dube set up Brett Ritchie for a shot from the top of the circles with Milan Lucic (and Devils defender Ryan Graves) screening Devils netminder Nico Daws. The puck beat Graves five-hole… and the goalie, too, to give the Flames a 1-0 lead and give Ritchie his first goal of the season.
But the Devils answered back later in the period. Kylington lost a puck battle inside the defensive blueline and a couple passes later, Dawson Mercer ripped a shot from the high slot that beat Jacob Markstrom high to tie the game at 1-1.
But the Flames took back the lead late in the period. Andrew Mangiapane jumped on an errant pass in the Devils zone, zipped around the Devils net and fed Chris Tanev for a point shot. Tanev’s shot didn’t make it through, but Mangiapane grabbed the rebound and beat Daws to make it 2-1 Flames. (The shot looked to have glanced off Ty Smith’s leg on the way to the net.)
Shots were 11-10 Flames (11-9 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 12-6 Flames in the first period.
The Devils evened things off in the second period. P.K. Subban’s point shot with traffic found its way to the net through a bunch of bodies… and Markstrom’s pads… to tie the game up at 2-2.
But the Flames roared back with three goals to close out the period and grab hold of the game.
Noah Hanifin zipped an outlet pass to Matthew Tkachuk in the neutral zone. Tkachuk passed to a streaking Dube, who entered the Devils zone with speed, raced past a defender and beat Daws glove-side to give the Flames a 3-2 advantage.
A little later, this time Tkachuk was the recipient of a gorgeous pass. Erik Gudbranson took advantage of a bit of light neutral zone coverage and found Tkachuk with a stretch pass. Tkachuk beat out a defender and put a puck past Daws on the far top corner to make it 4-2 Flames.
Jon Gillies came into the game for the Devils in relief of Daws after the fourth goal and immediately gave up a deflection goal to Lucic. Rasmus Andersson was zooming around the edge of the zone to Gillies’ left and put a precision slap-pass onto Lucic’s stick for a set deflection play that worked well and made it 5-2 Flames.
Shots were 15-13 Devils (15-12 Devils at five-on-five) and scoring chances 11-5 Flames in the second period.
The Devils cut into the Calgary lead early in the third period, with Yegor Sharangovich fired a puck past Markstrom from the net-front area. That made it a 5-3 Flames lead.
Johnny Gaudreau added an empty net goal to give the Flames a 6-3 lead late and cement their victory.
Shots were 16-8 Flames (13-6 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-3 Flames in the third period.
Why the Flames won
This wasn’t a blowout, and the Devils out-hustled and out-worked the Flames at times – the coaching staff won’t love how the Flames managed the puck or battled in their defensive zone. But the Flames have proved adept at generating and burying strong scoring chances. They seemed to identify New Jersey’s neutral zone coverage as a weakness and they repeatedly took advantage of it, which gave them enough goals to win this one.
Stick-taps to the penalty kill, as well, as they successfully killed off four Devils advantages.
Perhaps facing a trip to the press box once Calle Jarnkrok gets situated in Calgary, Dube was superb in this game. He used his speed and smarts really well on a new-look fourth line with Lucic and Ritchie. When all three guys on a line score a goal, their centre deserves some kudos.
The turning point
The Flames scored three goals in the span of 3:29 in the second period to put a stranglehold on what had previously been a pretty back-and-forth affair.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
This was Mikael Backlund’s 804th game with the Flames, passing Al MacInnis for fourth in games played in franchise history. Backlund has played more games for the Flames than any of their homegrown draft choices in franchise history.
The Flames (37-16-7) are back in action on Friday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres.
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