The Calgary Flames reach ‘real .500’ with first five game streak in nearly two years

Photo credit:Brett Holmes-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
The Calgary Flames did two things they haven’t done in awhile, particularly this late in a season, on Saturday night. They beat the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 4-3 score to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games. And they won their 30th game of the season, allowing them to reach the “real” .500 mark – 30 wins in 60 games.
And they did it after trailing 2-0 after the first period against a veteran-laden Penguins squad.
“We didn’t have our skating legs the first two periods, they did, and that was very evident,” said head coach Ryan Huska. “I thought they controlled a lot of the play in the first two periods, but then we flipped the script on them,” added Huska. “And it was similar, or opposite, of our game in Pittsburgh, where I thought we were the better team for two periods and they were the better team in the third. So tonight, it’s nice to get the win.”
The Penguins out-shot the Flames 14-3 in the first period, getting goals from Jonathan Gruden and Lars Eller, and 10-7 in the second period, with Yegor Sharangovich scoring to bring the Flames to within one. After a Jeff Carter redirect gave the visitors a 3-1 lead early in the third period, the Flames started to take over the game and mounted a comeback.
“It was a pretty ugly first period and they took it to us a little bit,” said Blake Coleman. “Fortunately we’ve done it enough this year that we have that belief that we can win games that way. There was no quit. Obviously there was some huge individual efforts that got us going and got us back in this game. We really believe in each other right now and we’re finding ways to string wins together.”
The Flames are now 30-25-5 on the second. Moreover, they’re 8-19-2 when trailing a game after two periods. Only Detroit has more wins (9) in that situation than Calgary does.
The comeback was sparked by a simply superb goal from Nazem Kadri midway through the period on a brief power play – he slipped the puck between a defender’s legs on his way through the neutral zone, then cut around a defender, across the crease and waited out netminder Tristan Jarry and put the puck past him.
32 seconds later, Coleman scored to tie the game. In the final minute of regulation, the Flames pressured the Penguins with their forecheck, leading to a turnover and Sharangovich’s second goal of the game to clinch the victory.
“They were on top of us,” said Coleman regarding the Penguins’ strong start. “They executed their game plan well. We didn’t have a lot of time and space coming out of our zone. We were coached the right way, we knew it was coming, and we just didn’t have a good response to it in the first. But with that said, we knew that we could use their aggressiveness to our advantage if we could make the plays and make plays under pressure. We got better as we went on but let’s be honest, without Marky having the start that he did, we don’t come back and win this game.”
Netminder Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves for his 21st victory of the season. The victory extends the Flames’ winning streak to five games, the first time since April 2022 that they’ve had a streak that long.
When the Flames traded first-line centre Elias Lindholm to the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 31, you would imagine that losing such a good player would take the wind out of their sails. Losing Chris Tanev in a trade to Dallas earlier this week would theoretically weaken the group’s resolve even further. And there’s the dangling shoe that is Noah Hanifin’s fate, which will likely be resolved prior to the March 8 trade deadline.
Suffice it to say, if the Flames were to simply crawl into a hole and let their playoff aspirations quietly die, it would be perfectly understandable given their situation.
But take a look at their results since Lindholm was traded: they’re 8-3-0, with a .727 points percentage. Only four teams have better records since the All-Star break than the Flames. And in their first game without their best shutdown blueliner, the Flames showed a ton of resolve and managed to battle back for a hard fought (and important) two points.
The playoff math is what it is. The Flames face an uphill battle. And they’re likely to lose Hanifin to a trade within the next six days. But the Flames certainly don’t seem ready to be counted out quite yet. And if they end up being eliminated from playoff contention, they likely won’t go down without a fight.
The Flames conclude their three-game homestand – and a stretch of seven of eight games at home – on Monday when they host the Seattle Kraken.
Get ready for the Daily Faceoff Live Trade Deadline Show, coming to you on March 8th LIVE from 11 AM to 3 PM EST!! Join Tyler Yaremchuk, Frank Seravalli and friends for 4 hours of non-stop action as they dive deep into the heart of the trade deadline. They will be breaking down every trade, discussing the impact on teams, predicting the playoff picture, and giving you the inside scoop on all the wheeling and dealing happening around the league. Tune in live on March 8th from 11 AM to 3 PM EST for the The Daily Faceoff Live Trade Deadline special you won’t want to miss!

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