Two of the National Hockey League’s top defensive clubs met on Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Here’s a shocker: there wasn’t much scoring. But the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes clashed in a game that lacked a lot of flow, but was a interesting tactical affair – the hockey equivalent of a game of high-level chess.
In a nail-biter, the Flames ended up losing to Carolina 2-1 in overtime.

The rundown

The opening period was tight-checking. Both teams had their looks. The Hurricanes executed on theirs, the Flames didn’t. A few minutes into the first period, Carolina opened the scoring with a weird goal. The Flames tried to clear their zone but couldn’t connect on a pass. Carolina tried to make a set-up pass but couldn’t connect on that, but Jaccob Slavin collected the puck and his shot was deflected by Sebastian Aho and beat Jacob Markström to give Carolina a 1-0 lead.
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A little later, Noah Hanifin drew a penalty shot. But being a blueliner, he couldn’t quite cash in and so Carolina’s lead remained intact.
Shots were 10-8 Flames (7-6 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 8-7 Flames in the first period.
The second period was just as tight-checking, though the Flames managed to get a goal back to tie the game midway through the period.
Off a face-off win by Elias Lindholm, Rasmus Andersson and Hanifin went D-to-D at the point. Hanifin whipped a wrist shot from the left point that eluded Frederik Andersen’s glove hand and just found the far, far top corner of the Carolina net and bonked in to tie the game at 1-1.
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Shots were 7-6 Flames (7-4 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 5-4 Hurricanes in the second period.
The Flames had three gold star scoring chances that were on their way in but didn’t cross the line. Dillon Dube had one swept away by Teuvo Teravainen. Rasmus Andersson had one knocked away by Slavin. Matthew Tkachuk had one swept away by Ian Cole.
Shots were 8-8 (6-3 Hurricanes at five-on-five) and scoring chances 5-4 Hurricanes in the third period.
This game went to overtime and Aho scored off the rush – basically barrelling through Calgary’s defenders – to give the Hurricanes a 2-1 victory.

Why the Flames got a point

This was an incredibly close game. Both teams played pretty well. The Flames had some issues with Carolina’s speedy forecheck and their aggressive penalty kill, and in general weren’t quite as sharp with their execution with the puck than they’ve been in recent games.
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And we’d be remiss to not mention three near-miss goals in the third period. Not great execution, and not great puck luck for the gentlemen in red.

Red Warrior

Hanifin was superb in this game, consistently noticeable in all three zones.

The turning point

The Flames could’ve had this game end as a regulation loss, but they had a really impressive penalty kill with about seven minutes left in regulation that kept the game tied at one.

The numbers

Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
Expected
Goals For%
O-Zone
Face-Off%
Game
Score
Ruzicka
89.5
0.0
0.40
Lewis
81.1
0.0
0.30
Dube
76.6
71.4
-0.01
Lucic
76.6
71.4
-0.04
Monahan
73.9
71.4
0.02
Richardson
67.2
0.0
0.26
Tanev
63.9
33.3
0.69
Gudbranson
60.7
83.3
0.46
Gaudreau
60.6
61.5
0.65
Kylington
57.2
50.0
0.27
Zadorov
53.8
87.5
0.32
Tkachuk
51.4
61.5
0.76
Lindholm
48.2
61.5
1.15
Andersson
36.9
54.6
0.55
Mangiapane
27.9
50.0
-0.51
Backlund
26.3
50.0
-0.44
Coleman
24.7
50.0
-0.58
Hanifin
23.9
54.6
0.32
Markström
0.07
Vladar

This and that

For a game between two really strong even strength teams, the thought was maybe special teams would be the difference. It wasn’t: neither team scored on eight combined power plays.

Up next

The Flames (15-6-6) are back in action on Saturday night when they host the Boston Bruins. It’s the late game on Hockey Night in Canada, with puck drop just after 8 p.m. MT.
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