The Calgary Flames continued their west coast road swing in California on Wednesday night, facing the Anaheim Ducks in the Honda Center. The Flames weren’t perfect – the Ducks got a lot of really good scoring chances – but they got big saves from Jacob Markstrom and timely goals en route to a 4-2 road victory over the Ducks.
The opening period was fairly even, with each club getting good looks.
The Flames opened the scoring midway through the first period. Johnny Gaudreau got possession of the puck, grabbing a pass around the boards from Michael Stone. Gaudreau was given a bit of room to operate by the Ducks – whoops – and he found Elias Lindholm wandering into the slot. Lindholm buried the feed past Anthony Stolarz to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
JOHNNY ➡️ LINDY 🤝
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) April 7, 2022
Shots were 13-10 Ducks (all at five-on-five) and scoring chances 12-7 Ducks in the first period.
The second period was a bit more high event, with both teams getting some strong looks. The Flames were opportunistic, though.
Midway through the period, Andrew Mangiapane tried to pass to Tyler Toffoli in the Anaheim slot but the pass got caught in Urho Vaakanainen’s skates. Mangiapane kept after the puck, though, and nudged the puck to Toffoli. Toffoli went to his backhand, beating Stolarz top shelf to extend Calgary’s lead to 2-0.
A little forehand, backhand shovel from @tytoff16 🔥
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) April 7, 2022
Late in the period, the Ducks got one back. Nikita Zadorov was called for hooking but the Flames managed to kill off the penalty. But shortly after the penalty expired, Vinni Lettieri muscled Erik Gudbranson off the puck behind the net and passed to Trevor Zegras in the slot area. Zegras spun and shot the puck, glancing it off Zadorov’s skate (changing direction) and beating Jacob Markstrom short-side to cut the lead to 2-1 Flames.
Shots were 7-5 Flames (all at five-on-five) and scoring chances 15-10 Flames in the second period.
The Ducks got a lot of really great chances in the third period off some Flames turnovers, with Markstrom bailing his team out with some excellent goaltending.
Midway through the period, Stone added some insurance to the Flames lead. Mangiapane saw Stone open at the left point during a cycle play and flung the puck across the zone to his defender. Stone had all kinds of time and leaned into a slap shot, going bar-down to give the Flames a 3-1 edge.
That was fortunate, as the Flames were soon called for too many men and on the ensuing power play, Adam Henrique beat Markstrom just inside the post short-side (the puck just squirted through) to cut the lead to 3-2 Flames.
But that was as close as the Ducks got. Gaudreau intercepted a neutral zone pass and set up Matthew Tkachuk for an empty-netter to give the Flames a 4-2 victory.
Shots were 11-10 Flames (10-6 Flames five-on-five) and scoring chances 10-6 Flames in the third period.
Why the Flames won
The Flames didn’t play a perfect game, in that they at times struggled to defend against Anaheim’s speed on the forecheck and as a result they probably gave up more (and higher quality) scoring chances than they’d probably prefer to see. (High-danger chances at five-on-five, via Natural Stat Trick, were 17-12 Flames overall.)
But on this night, the Flames got three timely goals and a lot of really nice saves from Markstrom when they needed him to bail them out. It wasn’t a flawless 60 minutes of hockey, but it was good enough for them to escape the Honda Center with the result they needed on this occasion.
Let’s give it to Stone, who had two points – including his first goal of the season, which stood as the game-winner. But honourable mentions to Markstrom for his strong goaltending and Mangiapane for a pair of key assists.
The turning point
Let’s point to the many, many good saves Markstrom made in the first five or six minutes of the third period. At that point, the Flames are leaky defensively and nursing a one-goal lead. Markstrom was very sharp and it gave them a chance to settle down.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
The game’s start was a bit delayed due to the earlier game in the American double-header on TNT going long.
This was Trevor Lewis’ 800th career game and Michael Stone’s 500th career game.
Johnny Gaudreau now has 97 points on the season.
The Flames (42-19-9) are heading up to the Bay Area. They visit the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night. It’s an 8:30 p.m. MT start.
Via Pat Steinberg’s math: As of this writing, the Flames’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now 5 – any combination of 5 Flames wins or Vegas losses clinches a post-season spot for Calgary. (It’s 8.5 Flames wins and/or Edmonton losses to clinch the Pacific Division crown.)
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