The Calgary Flames have played a lot of hockey lately. Sunday night was the final game of their seven game road trip and a tough test against a fairly rested Boston Bruins squad. The Flames played a calm, composed and structured hockey game en route to a fairly tidy 4-0 victory over the Bruins. They finish their road trip with a 4-1-2 record.
The Flames had some jump early and opened the scoring in the first period. Juuso Välimäki’s point shot was stopped by Jeremy Swayman, but he booted out a big rebound right to Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau buried the rebound past a sprawling Swayman to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
Shots were 9-7 Flames (9-6 Flames at five-on-five) and scoring chances 8-4 Flames in the first period.
The Flames scored again in the second period, taking advantage of a face-off win and a set play. Elias Lindholm won an offensive zone draw and fed it to Matthew Tkachuk for a low-angle shot. Swayman turned that shot aside… right to a pinching Noah Hanifin, who deposited the rebound into the open net to make it 2-0 Calgary.
Shots were 12-11 Bruins (10-10 at five-on-five) and scoring chances 6-5 Bruins in the second period.
The Flames took advantage of a bit of a lazy power play for Boston early in the third period. Twice. First, Dillon Dube went in on a rush (shorthanded). He had two scoring chances, but Swayman made the stops. But the Bruins allowed Andrew Mangiapane to calmly wander into the zone and put the loose puck past Swayman to make it 3-0.
A little later, just as the Boston advantage was expiring, Mikael Backlund’s shot squirted through Swayman’s pads and trickled across the goal line. A Boston player swept the puck away, but on review it was determined to be a goal and made it 4-0 Flames.
The Flames held on for the victory. Shots were 11-9 Flames (7-3 Bruins at five-on-five) and scoring chances 6-5 Flames in the third period.
Why the Flames won
The Flames played their game, to be quite simple. They played with structure, minimized turnovers and their forecheck gave Boston trouble in all three zones. It helps that the Bruins seemed a bit rusty, but the Flames did a great job not feeding into Boston’s counter-attack and just doing their thing.
A lot of players on the road side looked good, but let’s give the nod to Backlund. He had a lot of good looks, scored a goal, and was crucial in helping the Flames shut down Boston’s best players.
Dan Vladar was rock-solid when he needed to be and captured his second shutout of the season (and his NHL career).
The turning point
The Bruins seemed a little rusty from the get-go, but allowing that first Gaudreau goal in the opening period put them back on their heels (and that’s where they seemed to stay for the duration of the game).
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and that
This was Elias Lindholm’s 600th career NHL game.
Juuso Välimäki replaced Nikita Zadorov on the third pairing after sitting as a healthy scratch for the last 11 games.
This was the 15th time the Flames have scored first (11-1-3), the 12th time they’ve led after a period (10-1-1) and 11th time they’ve led after two periods (10-0-1). When the Flames can play with a lead, they’re usually pretty good.
The Flames (11-3-5) are headed home! They’ll host the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night at the Saddledome.
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