Aside from draft positioning, Wednesday afternoon’s game between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks had very little at stake. Both teams were playing for pride and the Flames looked fresher, more energetic and more motivated. The Flames skated to a 6-2 win over the Canucks to close out their 2020-21 season.
The Flames opened the scoring midway through the first period. After a successful penalty kill, the Flames made a nice push offensively. Johnny Gaudreau attempted a wrap-around that didn’t quite go the way he envisioned, but Matthew Tkachuk buried his pass to make it 1-0 Flames.
A nice pass from Brett Ritchie sprang Dillon Dube into the Canucks zone all alone, and he beat Braden Holtby five-hole to give Calgary a 2-0 edge.
Andrew Mangiapane jammed in a rebound off an initial shot from Mikael Backlund to make it 3-0 Flames.
Shots were 9-5 Flames and scoring chances 10-5 Flames in the first period.
Ritchie made it 4-0 Flames early in the second period, as the Canucks left him all alone in the slot for a pass from Derek Ryan.
The Canucks got on the board a little later, as Bo Horvat scored a power play goal in the slot and 58 seconds later J.T. Miller redirected a Brock Boeser shot past Jacob Markstrom to cut the lead to 4-2.
But Tkachuk scored his second of the game off a rush, burying a nice pass from Gaudreau to make it 5-2.
Backlund had a goal late in the second period disallowed after a coach’s challenge due to off-sides. Shots were 10-10 and scoring chances 10-9 Flames in second period.
Connor Mackey scored his first career NHL goal after jumping into the rush and redirecting a feed from Ritchie at the far post to give the Flames a 6-2 lead.
Shots were 9-6 Flames and scoring chances 10-4 Flames in the third period.
Why the Flames won
The Flames got out-scored on special teams, but otherwise they were energetic, composed, and just eager to play this game. (It might help that they had a bunch of young guys in their lineup who injected their group with some jump.) But even Calgary’s vets looked strong, with the top line of Gaudreau, Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm playing quite well.
The Flames best players were better than Vancouver’s best players. Their depth players were also better than Vancouver’s, which is why this was a very one-sided affair.
It’s a joint award to Ritchie and Ryan, who each had three points on the afternoon.
The turning point
Honestly, the entire first period. The Canucks seemed out of their element and the Flames scored early, often, and just out-worked the visitors. They never looked back from there.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and that
This was Matthew Phillips’ NHL debut!
Dube left the game in the second period after getting tangled up with Travis Hamonic. He didn’t return to the game.
The Flames (26-27-3) have completed their season schedule. Locker clear-out day is Thursday, at which point the off-season finally begins.