The Calgary Flames were not particularly good on Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Facing a Minnesota Wild club at the end of a road trip on Saturday night, they were significantly improved from Thursday’s effort.
The Flames allowed the first goal and then took things over en route to a 7-3 home win over the Wild to extend their home winning streak to a franchise record-tying 11 games.
The Wild opened the scoring 96 seconds into this game on their very first shot on goal. The Wild got a bit of zone time, made a couple passes, and Jon Merrill’s shot from the left point was deflected by Frederick Gaudreau in the slot past Jacob Markstrom to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
The Flames seemed to find their legs after that goal, though, as they gradually took the game over. Midway through the period, they tied things up. Marcus Foligno broke his stick trying to block a Noah Hanifin point shot. He scurried to the Minnesota bench to get another stick. As he scurried, the Flames made a couple quick passes, culminating with a sharp Rasmus Andersson cross-slot pass to Tyler Toffoli, whose shot beat Kaako Kahkonen to tie the game at 1-1.
80 seconds later, the Flames cashed in again. After Minnesota took a penalty, the Flames went to work on the man advantage. After some quick passing, Elias Lindholm sent the puck to Matthew Tkachuk at the side of Kahkonen’s crease. Tkachuk got a couple whacks at the puck and the second one put it into the net to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
Near the end of the period, the Flames cashed in again. Nikita Zadorov made a nice read at the left point, skating to his left and then passing to his right to Erik Gudbranson. That pass gave Gudbranson a clear shooting lane from the point and a lot of time to lean into a shot. Gudbranson’s shot was wired into the top corner, giving the Flames a 3-1 lead.
Shots were 18-4 Flames (16-4 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 13-1 Flames in the first period.
The second period was more tight-checking than the first period, with both teams disrupting lanes well and a lot of post-whistle scrums emerging. (There’s apparently bad blood between two teams that haven’t played each other in over two years.)
The Flames broke through for another pair of goals in the latter parts of the second period, though. Rasmus Andersson’s point shot was tipped by Blake Coleman in front of the net – while Kahkonen had to deal with Mikael Backlund and one of his defenders battling in front as a partial screen. Kahkonen made the initial stop, but the rebound went right to Andrew Mangiapane, who buried it to give the Flames a 4-1 lead.
Coleman added another goal late in the second period. With Mangiapane in the penalty box, Coleman was sprung for a breakaway but he was caught by a Wild defender and didn’t get a shot off. An exhausted Coleman circled back to his own zone to return to the kill, only for Lindholm to spring him for another breakaway. This time he beat Kahkonen to make it 5-1 Flames.
Shots were 14-8 Wild (9-5 Wild at five-on-five) and scoring chances 9-8 Wild in the second period.
Nick Bjugstad and Kirill Kaprizov scored goals in the third period to cut Calgary’s lead to 5-3, taking advantage of some scrambly defensive play in the Flames zone. But the Flames held on, and Tkachuk added an empty net goal on a late power play to make it 6-3. Toffoli added another empty netter to cement this as a 7-3 win for the Flames.
Shots were 9-7 Flames (4-3 Wild at five-on-five) and scoring chances 3-2 Wild in the third period.
Why the Flames won
The Flames really settled in nicely after allowing the opening goal. They didn’t give Minnesota very much space to operate and after they spotted themselves the opening period lead, they really didn’t need to exert themselves a whole lot to gain the offensive zone.
Part of that is the opponent – Minnesota looked fatigued and the Flames did what they could to make that worse – but the Flames were much better in the finer details of their game than they were in their loss to Vancouver. It wasn’t a perfect 60 minutes, mind you, but it was a big improvement.
Notable: After being criticized by head coach Darryl Sutter after Thursday’s game for their physical play, the Flames (up and down the lineup) had a noticeable battle level and won a lot of 50/50 pucks by mucking it up in the corners and along the side boards.
Mangiapane was a pain in the backside for Minnesota all evening, so let’s give him the nod. But a lot of players in red had strong evenings including Toffoli, Coleman, Tkachuk, Andersson and Hanifin.
The turning point
The Flames scored the tying and go-ahead goals in the first period in an 80 second span. They had already carried play for much of the period at that point, but a pair of quick goals put the Wild firmly on their heels (and largely kept them there until their third period push).
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
This was Matthew Tkachuk’s 400th career NHL game.
Oliver Kylington had a scary collision with the end boards midway through the third period. He collided awkwardly with Ryan Hartman and spun around, crashing into the end boards with his head and shoulder. He laid on the ice prone for awhile before eventually getting up and skating off the ice with assistance from a couple teammates.
The Flames (31-14-6) head down to the Twin Cities for their next game. They visit the Wild on Tuesday night to cap off this home-and-home set.
Looking to up your fantasy hockey game? DailyFaceoff has the tools you need for both daily and season-long fantasy leagues, including a lineup optimizer, daily projections, and a whole lot more. Sign up for the DailyFaceoff tools here.