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On Tuesday night, the Calgary Flames lost an emotional contest to their most bitter rivals. Then they hopped on a plane, flew to Seattle, and played the Kraken on Wednesday night. Despite Tuesday’s disappointment, the Flames seemed to park that loss and regroup quite effectively.
The Flames battled to a 3-2 victory over the Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena.
The Flames opened the scoring midway through the first period. Tyler Toffoli made a smart play to start and end the sequence. First, he threw the puck up the wall to Noah Hanifin at the left point. Hanifin’s shot was stopped by Philipp Grubauer, but he couldn’t smother the puck, and Toffoli out-battled a couple Seattle defenders around the blue paint and tucked the puck past Grubauer to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
The Flames had a power play later in the period, but weren’t able to extend their lead. On the shift after their man advantage, though, the Kraken cashed in. Jordan Eberle won a puck battle below the goal line and found Ryan Donato in the net-front area with a great pass. Dan Vladar made the initial stop on Donato, but the Kraken forward got his own rebound and chipped it past Vladar to tie the game up at 1-1.
First period shots were 14-14 (14-10 Kraken at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 14-10 Kraken (high-dangers were 8-5 Kraken).
Seattle took the lead early in the second period off a really nice first minute of play. The Kraken forechecked well and hemmed the Flames in their zone. The Flames got turned around by Seattle’s cycle and Jonathan Huberdeau lost track of his check, allowing Eberle to pass to Huberdeau’s man (Jamie Oleksiak) and Oleksiak was able to wander in from the point and get a nice shot off that beat Vladar to give the home side a 2-1 lead.
The Flames called a timeout after that goal, then gave up two breakaway chances to Brandon Tanev on the next shift.
Eventually, though, the Flames answered back to tie the game. Adam Ruzicka got high-sticked, giving the Flames a power play. It took them 12 seconds to score on their man advantage. After a face-off win, a couple passes led to an Elias Lindholm shot that was redirected by Nazem Kadri in the slot. It beat Grubauer and tied the game up at 2-2.
Second period shots were 15-11 Flames (11-9 Kraken at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-9 Kraken (high-dangers were 6-2 Kraken).
The third period was pretty even, with both sides getting their chances.
The Flames drew a power play midway through the period, but couldn’t score. But 16 seconds after the minor expired, the Flames took the lead. Sending Huberdeau’s line out for the bump-up shift, the Flames got the go-ahead goal. Rasmus Andersson’s point shot was partially blocked on its way from the right point, but the block caused the errant puck to dribble over to Huberdeau in the slot area. Huberdeau fired it on Grubauer and got it past the Seattle netminder to give the Flames a 3-2 lead.
The Kraken pulled the goalie for the extra attacker, but the Flames held on for the 3-2 victory.
Third period shots were 15-6 Flames (11-4 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 11-5 Flames (high-dangers were 7-1 Flames).
Why the Flames won
The Flames played an imperfect road game. They (at times) lacked structure in their own end and relied on their goaltender to calm things down – and he did, which is sort of what makes Vladar such a great backup that can be utilized in road game situations.
But the thing that the Flames did really well was stick with their game plan and generally play with some consistency in their forecheck and structure. Much like against Edmonton, they kept coming at the Kraken and pouring on shots. The Kraken defended fairly well, but the Flames really seemed to wear them down and find some gaps and take advantage. Did they get some bounces? Sure! But they out-worked the Kraken to get to those favourable bounces, and in a close game between two pretty evenly-matched teams, that was the primary difference.
They were in a position where if they won the third they won the game, and they found a way to win the third. Considering the Flames were playing their second game in as many nights, and coming off an emotional loss on Tuesday against the Oilers, this was an impressive (albeit imperfect) performance.
We always seem to default to the goaltender, and Vladar was quite good, but let’s give some props to Kadri. He scored the game-tying goal and set-up the game-winner with a really smart (and well-executed) pass to Andersson at the point.
Three of this game’s goals came during, or immediately after, Flames power plays. Huberdeau’s go-ahead goal was a big one for the club and for the player, especially after Huberdeau seemed to lose track of Oleksiak on Seattle’s second goal.
This and that
There was a phantom too-many-men minor given to Seattle in the second period. Matty Beniers touched the puck on his way off the ice… but nobody had replaced him yet, and Seattle had five guys on the ice during the entire sequence. Seattle’s coaching staff was quite upset, but the Kraken killed off the minor anyway.
The Flames (17-13-7) are headed back home. They face the Vancouver Canucks at the ‘Dome on New Year’s Eve.