It’s finally October and after some consternation following three straight exhibition losses, the Flames put in their best preseason effort and were rewarded with their first victory. Playing good hockey leads to winning!
The Flames controlled the puck early and through much of the first period. The reunited Gaudreau – Lindholm – Tkachuk unit was buzzing and opened the scoring with a slick passing play leading to a Gaudreau tally.
Early in period two, Nikita Zadorov made his presence known (in a good way this time!) as his heavy hit on Jason Dickinson forced a turnover which Mikael Backlund promptly gobbled up and fired home giving the Flames a 2-0 edge.
The Canucks answered back minutes later when Jonah Gadjovich deflected an Olli Juolevi wrister past Jacob Markstrom.
Markstrom put in a quality 40 minutes stopping 14 of 15 and looking dialed in doing it. Dustin Wolf and his beautiful mask came in to finish the game off. Wolf was solid stopping all seven shots he saw including a point-blank slot chance from Phillip Di Giuseppe.
The Flames backed him up with a good push in the final frame. The Flames had plenty of zone time, pressured the puck all over the ice, and owned the quality shot share. The home side reinstated their two-goal lead after a clean zone entry by Johnny Gaudreau lead to a Connor Mackey rush shot being tipped in by Tkachuk (although Tkachuk negotiated the tally should remain Mackey’s).
An empty netter, once missed, by Brett Ritchie sealed the deal with an empty powerplay goal.
Why the Flames won
Simply, the Flames won because, despite the powerplay woes, they played a solid hockey game at even strength in all three zones and their top line was rolling. They were making strong plays in transition and had the puck a ton. That’s Sutter hockey.
The top trio was pretty tantalizing and Gaudreau was excellent. At 5v5 he had seven shot attempts, five scoring chances, and two high danger chances.
The turning point
The goal credited to Tkachuk seemed to deter any significant Canucks attack. Although an aforementioned key save by Wolf and some good work on the penalty kill also shut the Canucks counterattack down.
This and that
Blake Coleman was a late scratch opening a spot up for Emilio Petterssen. Petterssen played 8:28 and, along with linemates Justin Kirkland and Byron Froese, struggled to move the needle 5v5.
Walker Duehr also continued to stamp his mark on this year’s preseason with another good performance.
The Flames (1-2-1) will head to Kent, Washington to play their first game on American soil in a long while tomorrow night against the home state Seattle Kraken.