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The Calgary Flames played their first home game in about two weeks on Tuesday evening when they hosted the Florida Panthers. After a whole lot of hubbub about Matthew Tkachuk’s return, the Flames ended up turning in a pretty effective, workmanlike performance.
The Flames scored first and never trailed in a 6-2 victory over the Panthers.

The rundown

The Flames opened the first period with a minor penalty two minutes in. That led to a shorthanded goal. With Blake Coleman in the box, Andrew Mangiapane stole the puck from Anton Lundell just inside the Flames blueline and headed up ice. Mangiapane toe-dragged around Brandon Montour, then passed to Dillon Dube, who chipped the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
A little later, Radko Gudas chucked the puck over the glass in the Panthers zone and took a delay of game penalty. On the ensuing Flames power play, a Rasmus Andersson point shot ricocheted off Bobrovsky’s pad and out to Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau’s shot went off a defender’s skate and in to give the Flames a 2-0 lead.
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A little later, Nazem Kadri’s line hemmed the Panthers into their own zone for a little bit. Eventually, a Noah Hanifin point shot was booted out by Bobrovsky right to Andersson. Andersson grabbed the puck, drove the net, and beat Bobrovsky top corner to give the Flames a 3-0 lead.
First period shots were 10-8 Panthers (9-4 Panthers at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 5-4 Panthers (high-dangers were 5-4 Panthers).
The Panthers tried to catch up in the second period and chipped away at the Flames lead a bit. Gustav Forsling pinched down to the top of the circles in the Flames zone on a cycle play and threw the puck into the slot. In that slot, Nick Cousins had his stick on the ice and redirected the feed past Dan Vladar to cut the Flames’ advantage to 3-1.
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But the Flames got one back on a weird goal. Basically, Brett Ritchie had the puck around the Panthers net but it looked like Forsling had him tied up. But Ritchie battled out of Forsling’s clutches and threw the puck on net. It looked like Bobrovsky either didn’t expect the shot or hadn’t gotten set for it, because he fell backwards and the shot went off him and into the net to give the Flames a 4-1 lead.
However, a minute and change later, Sam Reinhart beat Vladar glove-side off the rush to cut the Flames’ lead back (once again) to 4-2.
Second period shots were 10-6 Panthers (7-3 Panthers at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 6-3 Panthers (high-dangers were 2-1 Panthers).
The Panthers pressed in the third period, but the Flames defended fairly well and Vladar made some sharp saves.
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Huberdeau was robbed by a really nice save from Bobrovsky, but Tyler Toffoli wandered into the zone as the trailer and buried a one-timer feed from Huberdeau to extend the Flames’ lead to 5-2.
Mangiapane and Dube went in on a two-on-zero rush with just over a minute left and Mangiapane buried a feed from Dube to give the Flames a 6-2 lead and cement the victory.
Third period shots were 11-9 Panthers (7-7 at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-6 Panthers (high-dangers were 3-2 Flames).

Why the Flames won

If we’re being honest here, pals, this was a scheduled win, with the Flames (on two days rest) facing a team that played in overtime on Monday night in Edmonton.
But the Flames did a lot of good things in this game. Their special teams were very solid, though their power play lacked urgency after the initial goal. Heck, you could argue that their game lacked urgency after the first period and that they were trying to bottle the Panthers up and hold onto their lead. (See also: score effects.)
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That approach was largely successful, though, and despite some good pressure from Florida this game never felt particularly close.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with Andersson, who was really active in the rush, set up the power play goal and scored a really nice goal that stood as the game-winner.
A few other players had nice outings, notably Vladar, Dube and Huberdeau.

Turning point

Is it cheating to simply say “the first period”? The Flames were tremendously opportunistic in that period, but they deserved the chances (and goals) that they got.

This and that

2016 first-round selection Matthew Tkachuk returned to the Saddledome for the first time since his July trade to Florida. He received the requisite tribute video and ovation at the first TV timeout.
Six different Flames players registered multi-point games.

Up next

The Flames (10-9-3) are back in action on Thursday evening when they welcome Sean Monahan and the Montreal Canadiens back to the Saddledome.
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