In recent weeks, the Calgary Flames have been either really good or really bad. On Thursday, they were really good. They scored early, never trailed, and ultimately beat the Ottawa Senators by a 7-3 score to even their season series at two (blowout) wins apiece.

The rundown

After Matt Murray stopped Andrew Mangiapane’s initial shot 1:56 into the game, the Flames scored on their next three shots: 2:22, 2:59 and 11:56 into the game. (Yeah, that nearly nine minute gap between shots wasn’t ideal.)
The Flames opened the scoring in a way that was unusual: off a fourth line rush play. Derek Ryan made a really nice pass cross-zone to a streaking Brett Ritchie, whose shot beat Murray to make it 1-0 Flames.
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Just 37 seconds later, the Flames scored again. This time, Matthew Tkachuk found Dillon Dube in the slot and the young winger uncorked a quick shot that beat Murray to make it 2-0 Flames.
Ottawa got on the board a little bit later, as off a goal-mouth scramble Josh Norris jammed a loose puck past David Rittich to cut the home side’s lead to 2-1.
But the Flames answered back a few minutes later. Tim Stuetzle turned the puck over in the neutral zone to Sean Monahan. Monahan skated into the Ottawa zone and, for whatever reason, the Senators defenders backed into their slot. Monahan shot high, glancing a shot in off Murray’s arm to make it 3-1 Flames.
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And with 40 seconds left in the first period, the Flames struck again. Johnny Gaudreau found Josh Leivo entering the offensive zone and Leivo beat Murray low stick-side (just inside the post) to make it 4-1 Flames.
Shots were 11-7 Flames and scoring chances 8-6 Flames in the first period.
With backup Joey Daccord in net the Senators pushed back in the second period, but the Flames defended well. They added to their lead midway through the period. Again, Tkachuk found Dube in the slot. This time, Dube went back-hand and beat Daccord glove-side to make it 5-1.
Shots were 17-11 Senators and scoring chances 7-3 Senators in the second period.
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The Flames added to their lead early in the third period as Dube completed his hat trick. Dube and Tkachuk kept generating turnovers and eventually Dube sniped a wrister over Daccord’s shoulder to make it a 6-1 Flames lead.
The Senators chipped away at Calgary’s lead later in the period, though. A bad angle shot by Artem Anismov on an Ottawa power play eluded Rittich to make it 6-2. A puck blooped past Oliver Kylington at the offensive blueline and Ryan Dzingel beat Rittich off the rush to make it 6-3.
But Ryan responded back with a very rare second fourth line goal, burying a feed from Ritchie to extend Calgary’s lead to 7-3.
Shots were 8-7 Senators and scoring chances 9-6 Senators in the third period.
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Why the Flames won

This was the Good Flames. They played a good, opportunistic first period. Then they defended well, never really relinquishing too much territorial control in the middle of the ice.
If you want to nitpick? They took too many penalties and got a little bit leaky in terms of their puck management in the later stages of the game. But considering how bad they’ve looked recently, this was a very positive game overall.

Red Warrior

Dube had three goals and drew a penalty. He was excellent, but his line overall was quite good and consistently dangerous.
Honourable mentions to Ritchie and Leivo, who both scored their first goals as Flames.

The turning point

Late goals can be killers, and Leivo’s last minute goal in the first was a dagger. It basically ended Murray’s night and put the Flames far enough ahead that they just needed to defend intelligently for the remainder of the game.
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The numbers

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Face-Off%
Game
Score
Dube
57.9
50.0
3.510
Lindholm
57.1
50.0
1.370
Valimaki
57.1
83.3
0.820
Tkachuk
52.2
50.0
2.770
Nordstrom
50.0
80.0
1.570
Leivo
50.0
75.0
1.870
Kylington
50.0
100
-0.430
Gaudreau
47.4
80.0
1.660
Andersson
47.2
44.4
1.590
Monahan
47.1
75.0
2.210
Tanev
45.8
61.5
1.400
Giordano
45.7
44.4
1.580
Backlund
43.3
58.3
-0.020
Mangiapane
42.9
63.6
0.050
Lucic
42.9
63.6
0.000
Hanifin
42.3
69.2
0.530
Ryan
41.7
80.0
2.900
Ritchie
36.4
80.0
2.620
Rittich
-0.590
Markstrom

This and that

Monahan scored his 199th NHL goal. Mark Giordano earned his 495th NHL point.
Dressed as backup, Jacob Markstrom threw his hat on the ice to commemorate Dube’s third goal.

Up next

The Flames (11-11-2) are back in action on Saturday night for a Battle of Alberta clash against the Edmonton Oilers.