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The Calgary Flames weren’t amazing on Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Their puck management wasn’t great, they had too many turnovers, and their defensive play was iffy at times. But after spotting Carolina a 2-0 first period lead, the Flames put their work boots on and managed to get themselves back into it.
A Tyler Toffoli goal in overtime earned the Flames a 3-2 victory over the Hurricanes.
For the third time in five games, the Flames allowed the opening goal. This time, the Hurricanes dislodged a puck from Nazem Kadri’s stick in the neutral zone that was recovered by Sebastian Aho. Aho zoomed into the Flames zone, cut around Noah Hanifin and beat Jacob Markstrom five-hole to give the ‘Canes a 1-0 lead.
The Hurricanes made it 2-0 midway through the period on a bit of a weird sequence. The Hurricanes dumped the puck in on a two-on-two rush, and got beaten out for the puck – Stefan Noesen blew a tire when he got to the puck, the Carolina managed to hold onto the puck. Carolina cycled the puck and got a few good chances, including a stop where Markstrom lost his stick, ending with a Calvin de Haan point shot beating Markstrom to make it 2-0 for the visitors.
But the Flames managed to answer back on the power play a few minutes later. Just 23 seconds into their man advantage, Rasmus Andersson’s point shot was tipped by Tyler Toffoli. Antti Raanta made the initial save, but Nazem Kadri jumped on the rebound and beat Raanta to cut the lead to 2-1.
First period shots were 12-6 Hurricanes (13-2 Hurricanes at five-on-five), while five-on-five scoring chances were 18-3 Hurricanes (high-danger chances were 8-1 Hurricanes).
Early in the second period, the Flames managed to even things up. The Flames were making a line change and Brett Ritchie was the lone man left in the Carolina zone, facing a couple defenders. He hucked the puck on net from a bad angle, just slightly above the goal line in the corner, and it went in off Raanta to tie the game at 2-2.
The Flames got a break late in the period. The Hurricanes hit the offensive zone with the clock running down and got a couple good chances. Markstrom made a couple initial stops, but the Flames couldn’t get hold of the rebound and Derek Stepan scored from in front of the net. But the Flames challenged the goal and it was wiped out after it was determined that the initial zone entry had been off-side.
Second period shots were 14-2 Flames (10-2 Flames at five-on-five) with five-on-five scoring chances being 5-2 Hurricanes (high-danger chances 1-0 Hurricanes).
Neither team scored in the third period, as it was essentially two well-structured teams trying to figure out which of them would make the first big mistake. Neither team made a mistake large enough in the period to settle this game in regulation.
Third period shots were 12-8 Hurricanes (8-3 Hurricanes at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-2 Hurricanes (high-danger chances were 3-0 Hurricanes).
Both teams had their chances in overtime, but Tyler Toffoli scored with 29.8 seconds left in three-on-three to give the Flames a 3-2 victory.
Why the Flames won
The Flames weren’t great in this game. In regulation, five-on-five scoring chances were 30-7 Hurricanes and high-danger chances were 12-1 Hurricanes. The Flames were better at controlling the flow of play after the opening period, but Carolina got far and away more chances and higher-quality chances.
But after some somewhat shaky play, Markstrom made some strong saves in the latter stages of the game and the Flames managed to be good enough defensively to get this game to overtime. From there, they managed to be opportunistic and get the extra point.
Let’s go with Mikael Backlund, who led the team in shots in regulation, won over 60% of his face-offs in regulation, and was pretty rock-solid in all three zones.
Kadri was the runner-up here, as he was superb throughout this game. Andersson was also superb.
The Flames had to kill a double-minor after Blake Coleman was called for high-sticking/cross-checking Brent Burns in the face. They got big saves from Markstrom and some key defensive plays, which allowed the Flames to get this game to overtime.
Percentage stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick. Game score via Hockey Stat Cards.
This and that
Rasmus Andersson’s assist on Calgary’s first goal was the 100th helper of Andersson’s NHL career.
The Flames (4-1-0) are back in action on Tuesday night when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.