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The Calgary Flames began their five game road trip with a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday evening. The Flames weren’t all that good defensively, but their special teams and a superb goaltending performance in relief from Dan Vladar managed to salvage a point for the Flames.
The Flames never led, but managed to salvage a point in a 4-3 overtime loss at the United Center.
A couple minutes into this contest, Chicago opened the scoring. Seth Jones fired a shot from the point that was deflected by Lukas Reichel. Jacob Markstrom made the initial stop, but Reichel out-muscled the defender and fired the rebound into the open net to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
But the Flames answered back on the man advantage. After Rasmus Andersson drew a tripping call, the power play went to work and cycled the puck around the offensive zone. Eventually, Tyler Toffoli fired a shot on Alex Stalock. Stalock made the initial stop, but the rebound bounced right to Elias Lindholm for the easy tap-in to tie the game at 1-1.
But shortly after the Flames tied things up, Chicago took advantage of a sloppy line change to retake the lead. The Flames’ new players were rushing in from the bench and Sam Lafferty fired a puck on net. Markstrom booted out a rebound and Colin Blackwell snuck past Michael Stone and buried the rebound to give Chicago a 2-1 lead.
First period shots were 18-10 Flames (16-10 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-8 Flames (high-dangers were 5-4 Flames).
Early in the second period, Chicago struck again. The Flames had ample pressure in the offensive zone and Noah Hanifin pinched down to maintain possession. That didn’t work and play went the other way, with Max Domi getting a pass past Lindholm at the blueline and sending Reichel and Philipp Kurashev in on a two-on-one against Rasmus Andersson. Kurashev buried Reichel’s pass to give Chicago a 3-1 lead.
That goal ended Markstrom’s night and Dan Vladar entered the game in relief.
If the idea was to give the team a kick in the butt by changing goalies, it worked. A little after the goalie swap, the Flames lost an offensive zone draw but managed to score anyway. Milan Lucic battled for the puck, stole it after a quick stick-lift, then fed Jonathan Huberdeau in the slot for a one-timer that beat Stalock and cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2.
After Ian Mitchell took a puck-over-glass minor, the Flames power play only needed nine seconds to cash in. Off a face-off win, the Flames made a few quick passes, with Lindholm setting up Nazem Kadri in the slot. Kadri beat Stalock to tie the game at 3-3.
Second period shots were 16-4 Flames (13-4 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 9-8 Blackhawks (high-dangers were 5-2 Blackhawks).
The third period was very even and very scrambly, with both teams seemingly afraid to make too many mistakes… and also the scoring chances on either side usually the product of the mistakes each team was trying to avoid. Vladar made a handful of excellent saves to keep this game tied.
Third period shots were 11-10 Flames (10-9 Blackhawks at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-4 Flames (high-dangers were 4-2 Flames).
In overtime, Domi fell down on a rush chance, but shuffled the puck over to Jonathan Toews. Huberdeau and Andersson seemed to lose track of who was supposed to be keeping track of Domi. That allowed Domi to get up, sneak past them, and bury a feed from Toews past Vladar to give Chicago a 4-3 victory in extra time.
Why the Flames got a point
The good? Well, Vladar was awesome and their power play scored twice after being largely an afterthought for the last while. They managed to come back and tie the game, albeit against a fairly bad Chicago outfit.
The bad? Well, their puck management and positioning in their own zone was down there with some of their sloppiest, most disorganized performances we’ve seen this season. If you look back at all of the Chicago goals, you’ll see Flames lapses that allowed them to happen. And offensively, the Flames had 47 shots, but a lot of those were perimeter efforts. They didn’t get into the slot or around the blue paint nearly enough.
In the pre-game piece, I wrote that the Blackhawks are the type of team that good teams beat. The Flames only got one point, and it’s more about what the Flames did poorly than what the Blackhawks did well.
He entered midway through the game, but Vladar was excellent and helped the Flames calm down at various points throughout this game.
(Post-game, Darryl Sutter explained to the media that the goalie change wasn’t to shake things up, but because Chicago’s goalie was out-playing the Flames’.)
Let’s go with Vladar entering the game. To be blunt: the Flames needed that kick in the butt, and they followed up him entering the game with a couple goals to draw even. Granted, Vladar had to be really good in the third period, so it’s not like his arrival solved all that ailed them.
This and that
Chicago wore their Reverse Retro jerseys.
Lukas Reichel, Chicago’s first goal-scorer, is nephew of longtime Flames forward Robert Reichel.
Michael Stone “fought” Jake McCabe in the second period after a bit of a goal-mouth scramble. Both men were given fighting majors, though Stone never dropped his gloves. Dillon Dube and Max Domi nearly scrapped late in the period after Dube nailed Phillip Kurashev with a hit, but the officials didn’t allow a fight to occur.
The Flames (19-14-8) are headed to St. Louis. They play a two game set with the Blues on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.