Watch out for that expiring penalty, it’s a doozy.
The Calgary Flames won their third game in a row on Thursday, taking it by a 3-1 score and handing the Vancouver Canucks a sixth consecutive loss.
Oddly enough, all three of the Flames’ goals came within seconds of a penalty expiring. Mark Giordano opened the scoring late in the first just one second after Justin Bailey finished serving a two-minute slashing minor; in the middle frame, again one second after a Canucks penalty (Bo Horvat, for slashing) expired, Andrew Mangiapane beat Thatcher Demko with a bank shot from downtown.
Early in the third period, with the Flames up 2-1 and having just killed off a Sean Monahan tripping infraction, Calgary’s recently-penalized centre exited the box and sprung Johnny Gaudreau for a breakaway. The teeny terror tickled twine with a top-shelf tally.
Two of the Flames’ goals came off lucky bounces, with Giordano’s icebreaker hitting Jordie Benn’s ankle on its way to the back of Vancouver’s net. Conversely, the Canucks couldn’t buy a goal despite controlling the play by a wide margin in the opening 40 minutes.
Vancouver generated 0.77 and 0.61 expected goals at even strength in the first two periods, respectively; Calgary responded with just 0.27 in both frames before winning the xGF battle by a dominant 0.95-0.25 score in the third. Despite their early momentum, the Canucks managed only a single goal on Thursday—and it was a weird one.
A new Flame—and a former Canuck—represented the difference between these two teams for much of Thursday’s game.
Markstrom was sensational
Jacob Markstrom faced 34 shots on Thursday, an appropriate amount for somebody whose current play bears resemblance to that of a certain past #34.
The Canucks remain winless this season against their former goaltender. Markstrom now has a 3-0-0 record against Vancouver to go along with a .968 save percentage and one shutout performance.
A big part of what made Miikka Kiprusoff so incredible was his glove hand. Kipper was always recognized most for his elite athleticism but man, he could flash the leather
like few other goalies could. (Click all of those links. I promise, it’s 100% worth your time).
Markstrom echoed Kiprusoff’s catching prowess on multiple occasions against Vancouver, particularly when the Canucks were pushing to gain a lead.
If Markstrom misses on any of those, the Flames are in a hole. Instead, they remained in the driver’s seat throughout Thursday’s contest, scoring first and responding less than 10 minutes after Vancouver’s equalizer. Terrific saves by Markstrom surrounded all those events.
The Canucks’ only goal was strange. It began with a beautiful play by Elias Pettersson to get the puck out of the Canucks’ zone—more on that later. Pettersson found a streaking Brock Boeser with a stretch pass and the Canucks winger broke in against Markstrom with nobody in front of him.
With Flames defenseman Nikita Nesterov cutting off his angle from the right, Boeser cut towards Markstrom and flicked a high backhand shot that appeared to handcuff the Flames’ goaltender. He made the save but lost track of the puck in his crease; Boeser spotted it, loose, and poked it home before Nesterov could find it.
Either way, Markstrom rocked a .971 save percentage on Thursday. One unusual goal takes little away from that sort of performance. It becomes more of a mystery with each passing game as to why the Canucks moved on from this player.
A toast to Andrew Mangiapane
Is it too early to write a “Mangiapane for Selke” column?
By his own standards, Andrew Mangiapane technically had a mediocre game on Thursday. The Flames only generated 57.89% of the shot attempts when he was on the ice at even strength. They only managed 52.45% of the expected goals, Mangiapane’s third-worst on-ice xGF% result of the season to date. Mangiapane only bounced his game-winning goal off of two Canucks defenders.
Mangiapane has more games this season with on-ice expected goals results over 80% (three) than he does games under 50% (two). Among players with over 100 minutes of ice time this season, Mangiapane is third in the entire NHL with a 68.30 xGF%.
The Flames’ sixth-round pick from 2015 is dominating right now both offensively and defensively. Mangiapane’s on-ice expected goals against/60 figure of 1.43 ranks in a tie with Brad Marchand for 13th-best in the league. His 3.07 on-ice expected goals for/60 sits 16th in the NHL. He’s by far the best-ranked player on the Flames in both categories.
Mangiapane owns the 13th-best high danger chance rate (69.35%) in the league, but his 6.19 on-ice shooting percentage ranks 352nd (among Flames with a minimum of 100 minutes played, only Josh Leivo’s is worse).
On Thursday, Mangiapane led the Flames by firing five shot attempts towards Demko. All five of them counted as high-danger chances. Four of them reached the goaltender. Mangiapane did take a penalty but he also drew the one that expired right before Giordano opened the scoring.
Assuming there are no delays, the Flames will be able to sign Mangiapane to a contract extension on Jul. 28 of this year. They would be wise to explore a long-term deal; Mangiapane will be a 26-year-old restricted free-agent at the conclusion of his current pact.
Photo of the Game
Kick save and a beauty, Milan. This cool little play led to one of Mangiapane’s scoring chances.
Speaking of which…
The Three Gould Stars
It’s a play on my last name, see.
These “Gould Stars” will be used to recognize players who were noticeable—for reasons both good and bad—in the game being discussed. This is not a list of the three best players.
- Gould Star One: Milan Lucic had an interesting game. Pettersson took him to the cleaners with a beautiful deke leading up to Boeser’s goal, but that probably could have happened to anybody. Lucic had a good game from a play-driving perspective (53.76 xGF%) but his most notable play might have been this ugly (and unpenalized) hit from behind which injured the Canucks’ Justin Bailey.
- Gould Star Two: Johnny Gaudreau now has eight goals in 13 games. Here’s the full list of players with more: Auston Matthews, Brock Boeser, Connor McDavid, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, and Nikolaj Ehlers. Notice a common theme?
- Gould Star Three: Scoring is often the last part of the game to develop for a young defenseman. While Juuso Valimaki is still looking for his first goal of the season—and the second of his career—he now sits at five points (all assists) on the year after recording a secondary marker on Mangiapane’s game-winner.