The Calgary Flames played their second game under new/old bench boss Darryl Sutter on Saturday night. Against a refreshed Montreal Canadiens club, the Flames looked even better than they did on Thursday. The Flames never trailed en route to a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens.
The Flames opened the scoring off a smart bit of hockey from the Sean Monahan line. Off a dump-in, Brett Ritchie crashed and banged below the goal line, inducing a turnover. Monahan grabbed the puck, zoomed to the front of the net – while protecting the puck – and beat Carey Price top corner to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
A little bit later, the Flames cashed in on the power play. After Elias Lindholm’s initial shot was stopped, Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk battled Montreal’s defenders in front of the net. Monahan won his battle and poked the loose rebound into the net to give Calgary a 2-0 lead.
Shots were 16-6 Flames and scoring chances 8-2 Flames in the first period.
The Flames added to their lead in the second period off a really nice effort from Andrew Mangiapane. Milan Lucic flipped the puck into the neutral zone and Mangiapane gave pursuit. Jeff Petry tried to corral the puck, but Mangiapane battled Petry for the puck, stole it, and fed Mikael Backlund for a quick wrist shot that beat Price to make it 3-0 Flames.
The Canadiens got one back before the period concluded, though. During a stretch of four-on-four, Petry snuck in from the left point and found a quiet area of the Flames zone. Jonathan Drouin found him with a nice pass and Petry beat Jacob Markstrom to cut Calgary’s lead to 3-1.
Shots were 12-10 Flames and scoring chances 13-5 Flames in the second period.
As one would expect, Montreal made a push in the third period. The Flames defended generally pretty well, though during one Habs push Markstrom lost his goal stick and made a nice diving stop on Tomas Tatar at the side of the net. But the Flames held on for a big victory.
Shots were 9-8 Canadiens and scoring chances 6-3 Canadiens in the third period.
Why the Flames won
Quite simply, they were better than Montreal. Facing a team with more push-back than they had on Thursday, the Flames were crisper, more precise, and generally executed their game-plan quite well. They fore-checked, they back-checked, they body-checked, and they didn’t give Montreal too many freebies when it came to scoring opportunities.
Monahan had a pair of goals, so let’s give him the nod.
But a lot of Flames players were quite good in this game.
The turning point
Monahan’s second goal gave Calgary some insurance and was a reward for a really effective first period.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and that
The Flames are now 11-0-0 when leading after two periods and 9-2-2 when scoring first.
Both teams had a goal waved off for a kicking motion: Johnny Gaudreau for Calgary and Josh Anderson for Montreal.
The Flames (13-12-3) are back in action on Monday night for a Battle of Alberta against the hated Edmonton Oilers.