Calgary Flames Post-Game: Turnovers extinguish Flames against Chicago
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike7 months ago
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The Calgary Flames hosted the 32nd-place Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, looking to draw even in the standings with the Winnipeg Jets for the final wildcard playoff spot with a win. Instead, the Flames never led, and some tough puck management on their part paced the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory.
The Blackhawks opened the scoring a few minutes into the first period. A pass from the corner to the slot area missed its mark, but Jonathan Toews corralled the puck on the far boards, passed to Lukas Reichel, and Reichel passed to Andreas Anthanasiou. Athanasiou skated to the slot and sniped a high wrister past Jacob Markstrom to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The Flames tied things up a little while later off a weird play. Andrew Mangiapane tried to throw the puck to the front of the net from below the goal line in the Chicago zone. The Blackhawks blocked the pass, but a clearing attempt by Seth Jones went right to Tyler Toffoli in the slot, and he batted the puck past Petr Mrazek to tie the game at 1-1.
But the Blackhawks took a lead late in the first period off a couple tough plays by Nazem Kadri. Handling the puck at the offensive blueline, his back-hand pass didn’t have much on it and was stolen by Chicago. After a Blackhawks’ dump-in behind the net, Kadri attempted a one-handed poke-check pass to the defender on the other side… but the poke didn’t have much on it. Boris Katchouk stole the puck and threw it out front for Jujhar Khaira, who shelved it past Markstrom to make it 2-1 Chicago.
But the Flames tied things up in the second period after pressuring for awhile. Mikael Backlund’s fore-checking led to a bad pass and a turnover just inside the Chicago blueline. Blake Coleman began a passing sequence, then ended it with a pass to a pinching Noah Hanifin. Hanifin’s shot beat Mrazek five-hole to make it 2-2.
Chicago retook the lead early in the third period. Kadri got his pocket picked by Athanasiou in the neutral zone, leading to an odd-man rush. Athanasiou redirected Reichel’s pass into the Flames net to give Chicago a 3-2 lead.
A minute and change later, Chicago struck again. The Flames were pressing in the offensive zone, but they were caught up ice after a turnover and Chicago got another two-on-one rush. Austin Wagner toe-dragged around Nikita Zadorov and beat Markstrom to make it 4-2 Blackhawks.
But the Flames inched closer later on in the third period. Mrazek couldn’t glove a Backlund shot from distance and the offensive sequence continued. Backlund ended up firing the puck from the side boards and it deflected off Ian Mitchell’s skate and in to cut the Chicago lead to 4-3.
The Flames pulled Markstrom for the extra attacker with a couple minutes left, but they couldn’t draw even and Chicago won 4-3.
Why the Flames lost
The Flames had the puck a lot. The Flames’ puck management, in all three zones, left a lot to be desired. Chicago hung out and waited for the Flames to make mistakes, and the Flames obliged. Three of Chicago’s four goals were directly off Flames’ turnovers.
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It’s a joint award to the line of Huberdeau, Backlund and Coleman. They were easily the most effective Calgary unit.
The Flames entered the third period needing simply to out-play the NHL’s last-place team to end up tied for a playoff spot. They gave up two goals in the opening 3:11 of the period instead.
This and that
Chris Tanev returned to action, playing for the first time since Mar. 20.
The Flames (36-27-15) are headed to Winnipeg. They face the Jets on Wednesday night.
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