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Through goal reviews, comebacks and trades, the Calgary Flames are showing resiliency

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
The the calendar flipped from October to November, the Calgary Flames were a team in some trouble. They had a 2-6-1 record, good for 31st in a 32-team league, and they were a group that seemed to lack confidence, swagger, or whatever euphemism you prefer for a group that didn’t seem to believe in themselves.
Man, what a difference a month can make.
In October, the Flames entered the third period trailing or tied seven times: they went 1-5-1. In November, the Flames did the same thing a dozen times: they went 6-4-2 – their four wins when trailing after two periods led the NHL during the month.
On Thursday night against Dallas, the Flames capped off a month where the theme was “finding ways to win” by, well, finding a way to win. Even when the winning didn’t seem to want to come easy, in the aftermath of Nikita Zadorov’s trade to Vancouver just hours before puck drop.
The Flames held a lead during the game for all of three and a half minutes, all during the late first period. The remainder of the game was spent tied or trailing. They out-shot Dallas 12-2 during a one-sided second period but couldn’t take the lead. A lapse in the early third period led to a Mason Marchment penalty shot, and Dallas scoring the go-ahead goal.
Heck, the Flames seemed to have tied the game up on a Mikael Backlund deflection with just over five minutes left in regulation, only to have the goal wiped out by a coach’s challenge from the Stars – it was ruled a hand pass after review.
In a situation that may have deflated another team – heck, one that probably would have done so to this team last month – the Flames managed to regroup, tie the game two and a half minutes later on a point shot from MacKenzie Weegar, and win in overtime off a goal from Nazem Kadri.
Flames head coach Ryan Huska reflected on his team’s belief in their ability to come back and win following the game.
“I just felt like tonight they, our bench, felt like we’re coming back to win tonight,” said Huska. “It had that feeling all night, it really did. When the penalty shot goal went in, there was no sag, nothing like that. So they, honestly, they felt tonight that they were going to win the game. And you can see it after situations where they gave something up, they came back with a good shift and found a way.”
Speaking to the media in the Flames’ locker room, blueliner Noah Hanifin discussed the team’s quick bounce-back after Backlund’s would-be-tying goal was overturned.
“It’s definitely frustrating, especially when it’s that close to the end of the game and you get a little bounce back like that,” said Hanifin. “But I think we were playing good hockey at that time of the game and we just had to keep it going, stay with it, and fortunately Weegs got a good puck on net and it went in for us. I thought that was good karma.”
Because the hockey gods seem to have a sense of humour, the Flames’ celebratory rush to their locker room after the goal was delayed somewhat by a Situation Room review of Kadri’s game-winning goal for possible goaltender interference.
Huska attributed his team’s confidence not only to their experience with successful comebacks recently, but also credited the club’s leadership group – captain Mikael Backlund and others – with helping the team develop it.
“It gives you the confidence, by being able to do that for sure,” said Huska. “But again, we’ve talked a lot about it over the last little bit, the guys in the room are starting to take that over and that’s an important thing. So Mikael and his group of guys have done a really good job there.”
The Flames won two games in October and posted a meagre .278 points percentage. Their November haul is more impressive: an 8-4-2 record and .643 points percentage. Huska acknowledged how well his team has been playing, but noted they have a big challenge ahead of them on Saturday in the form of the Vancouver Canucks.
“We’ve played some good hockey over the last little while,” said Huska. “The challenge now is making sure that that continues.”

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