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Through two periods, the Calgary Flames were in the midst of a surprisingly tight, low-scoring game against the San Jose Sharks. But the Flames, who had many chances earlier that they couldn’t bury, became opportunistic early in the third period and blew the game wide-open.
The Flames never trailed en route to a 5-2 road victory over the Sharks.
The Flames were all over the Sharks offensively in the opening frame, but some nice goaltending (and some bad execution in the Sharks zone) kept things close. Thankfully for the Flames, the Sharks suffered from some poor execution in the Sharks zone, which led to the Flames’ opening goal.
Nico Sturm threw a pass from the neutral zone back to Jaycob Megna in the Sharks zone, which caught Megna off-guard. Megna threw an even sloppier pass towards Sturm, which Sturm couldn’t handle. Tyler Toffoli intercepted the errant pass and beat Kaapo Kahkonen glove-side to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
Adam Ruzicka took a tripping penalty later in the period and off a quick passing sequence following the Sharks face-off win, Erik Karlsson fed Timo Meier for a one-timer that beat Jacob Markstrom. That tied the game up at 1-1.
First period shots were 10-3 Flames (10-2 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-2 Flames (high-dangers were 4-1 Flames).
The Flames took a lead in the second period off a nice cycling play by the fourth line, complete with some traffic in front of Kahkonen. Milan Lucic fired a shot from the high slot, which deflected off Karlsson (battling with Trevor Lewis out front) and into the Sharks net. It was announced as Lewis’ goal but eventually changed to Lucic, standing as his first goal in 62 games (51 regular season and 11 playoff). That gave the Flames a 2-1 edge.
Second period shots were 13-7 Sharks (8-6 Sharks at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-7 (high-dangers were 3-3).
The Flames blew the game wide-open to begin the third period.
With Jonathan Huberdeau serving the tail-end of a penalty, Elias Lindholm drew a penalty off the opening face-off, giving the Flames a brief spell of four-on-four. The Flames won the face-off, Huberdeau exited the penalty box and joined the power play, and a quick passing sequence ended with Lindholm burying a pass from Huberdeau to make it a 3-1 Flames lead.
19 seconds later, Rasmus Andersson jumped into the rush and found Lindholm (again) in the slot, where Lindholm (again) buried the feed to give the Flames a 4-1 lead.
Slightly later still, Nazem Kadri’s jump-in shot on Kahkonen took a weird bounce and seemed to surprise the netminder. An alert Dillon Dube chased down the loose rebound and fired it past Kahkonen from a sharp angle to give the Flames a 5-1 lead.
The Sharks got one back later in the period, off another smart passing play on a power play after a face-off win. This time, Tomas Hertl jammed a puck past a sprawling Markstrom to cut the Calgary lead to 5-2.
But that’s as close as the home side got. The Flames held on for a 5-2 victory.
Third period shots were 10-8 Sharks (6-4 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-7 Flames (high-dangers were 6-3 Sharks).
Why the Flames won
First off, this was a scheduled win, as the Sharks played on Saturday in Los Angeles and then flew home to play Calgary. The schedule was against them.
But give the visitors credit: they were all over the Sharks in the first period and for big swaths of the third period – 5v5 scoring chances were 27-16 for the visitors. They deserved the goals that they got, and the goals they gave up (both on Sharks power plays) were the product of really smart plays by the Sharks’ special teams units.
This wasn’t a dominant Flames win, but they did many good things and despite getting into some penalty trouble in the third period, they played a composed, structured-enough game that the Sharks couldn’t get back into it once the Flames got their lead.
Lindholm scored twice and had three points, so let’s give him the nod.
But Markstrom was really solid, and Toffoli and Kadri both had multi-point evenings.
The Flames scored three goals on four shots in the first 2:10 of the third period to grab hold of this game.
This and that
The Flames went with 11 forwards and seven defencemen in this game. Jonathan Huberdeau made his 700th NHL appearance, while Jacob Markstrom played in his 400th NHL game.
Dennis Gilbert fought with San Jose’s Jonah Gadjovich in the second period, Gilbert’s fourth fight in eight games this season in the NHL. Gilbert got walloped by Gadjovich at the end of the fight and didn’t return to the game. (Nikita Zadorov also left the game in the third period after blocking a shot with his hand or wrist.)
The Flames (14-12-6) play the Sharks (again) on Tuesday night.