Flames Post-Game: Flames survive wild night in Nashville, win in overtime
Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike11 months ago
The Calgary Flames may very well meet the Nashville Predators in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Consider Tuesday night’s meeting an appetizer, and what a teaser it was. The two teams engaged in battle – scrapping, hitting and exchanging power plays – in a really tense, entertaining 62 minutes of hockey.
The Flames tied the game with 0.1 seconds left in regulation and won in overtime by a 5-4 score.
So, uh, this game was intense. After perhaps the first couple of minutes, whistles were followed by scrums, arguments, hugging and occasionally fisticuffs.
The Predators took an early too many men bench minor. The Flames top power play unit couldn’t do very much – Nashville did a nice job protecting their blueline on zone entries – but the second unit found their way into the Predators zone, moved the puck really well, and cashed in. Mikael Backlund found Dillon Dube across the seam in the slot, and Dube fired a shot past Juuse Saros to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
The rest of the period got chippy. Erik Gudbranson fought Tanner Jeannot (after Jeannot nailed Coleman at the blueline). Right after, Matthew Tkachuk got his stick up on Matt Duchene while they were lining up for a face-off, so Duchene tried to spear him. Later on, Milan Lucic fought Mark Borowiecki. 34 minutes of penalties were handed out in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Shots were 9-6 Flames (4-4 at five-on-five) and scoring chances 4-2 Predators in the first period.
The Predators did a nice job of picking their spots offensively in the second period, and managed to grab the lead with a pair of goals scored a couple minutes apart.
First, off a face-off win in the Flames’ zone, the Predators funnelled the puck to the point and an unchallenged Roman Josi walked towards the high slot and uncorked a shot that Dan Vladar probably didn’t see before it hit the net – it was a very high-velocity shot. The blocker-side marker made it 1-1.
A little later, the Predators took advantage of some Flames confusion in the defensive zone off a Nashville change. Mikael Granlund jumped off the bench, accepted a Josi pass, and went to put a shot on net from Vladar’s right. Chris Tanev went to block the shot, but it glanced off his pads and bounced right to Duchene, on the left side of the slot. Vladar had no chance and Duchene got a gimme, firing into the open net to make it 2-1 Nashville.
But the Flames tied things up later in the period. Dube wandered into the Predators zone by his lonesome, backed the Predators defenders into the slot with his speed, and fired a wrist shot eluded Saros to tie the game up at 2-2.
Shots were 12-7 Flames (9-6 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 7-3 Predators in the second period.
Blake Coleman got called for cross-checking at the tail-end of the second period. That gave the Predators an early power play and on that advantage, the Flames got scrambling a bit, which allowed Duchene to set up Filip Forsberg with a one-timer feed across the slot seam. Vladar had no chance on it, and it made it 3-2 Predators.
But the Flames tied it up! Milan Lucic won an offensive zone draw and headed to the net. Noah Hanifin fired a point shot and between the four players blocking Saros’ view of things, the puck found a way into the net. That tied it up at 3-3.
Elias Lindholm got called for rough a Predator after a hit. On the resulting power play, Forsberg found some quiet space in the Flames end, accepted a pass from Granlund, and beat Vladar short-side to give Nashville a 4-3 lead (and their second PP goal of the period).
Saros made some nice saves on a Flames power play but seemed to tweak something. He left the game and was replaced by David Rittich in relief. The Predators got a late power play after Lucic blasted Duchene with a hit (called interference), but the Flames killed it off.
The Flames pressed late, pulled Vladar for the extra attacker and tried to tie things up. With 0.1 seconds left on the clock, Tkachuk banged a puck past Rittich to tie the game at 4-4 and sent this contest to overtime.
Shots were 13-9 Flames (9-5 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 7-2 Flames in the third period.
This game went to overtime, and after a back-and-forth few minutes – which included a Predator landing on Vladar during a scramble in the crease – Rasmus Andersson’s scoring chance was stopped by Rittich, but Lindholm’s follow-up shot trickled through him to give the Flames a 5-4 overtime win.
Why the Flames won
When this game was at five-on-five, the Flames were at even keel with the Predators. Sure, Nashville got slightly more danger chances, but the Flames were right there with them the whole way. But the Flames had a tendency to get sucked into the physicality a bit too often and didn’t pick their spots particularly well.
(Comments section: I see you, I hear you, and I get the point of setting a physical tone before a potential playoff series. But I think they went out of their way to engage physically too often, to the detriment of their defensive coverage and transition play.)
Remember that game where Chris Tanev got blasted by an opposing player and the Flames spent the entire rest of the game chasing that player around? This wasn’t as disruptive as that was, but the Flames were just a little off their game as they run around trying to make big hits rather than making good passes.
That said, the Flames managed to maintain their offensive focus and scored late (and in overtime) to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Dube scored a pair, so let’s give him this nod. But Andersson and Hanifin were also very good in this game.
The turning point
The Flames had a tendency to take penalties in the wrong time in this game and gave up goals at the wrong times after said penalties. They got scored on 30 seconds into the third period off a sloppy penalty they took at the end of the second. As a result, they spent most of the third period chasing.
But man, give the Flames credit for (a) the late kill on Lucic’s penalty, (b) not giving up on tying the game late, and (c) bearing down on their chances in overtime.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
This was Johnny Gaudreau’s 600th regular season game. He had two assists.
All three meetings between the Flames and Predators during the regular season went to overtime.
The Flames (50-20-10) are headed to Minnesota. They visit the Wild on Thursday night in their second-last game of the regular season before finishing off the season in Winnipeg on Friday night.
The Flames have clinched a playoff spot and top spot in the Pacific Division.
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