The Calgary Flames finished the Florida portion of their road trip with a 4-2 win over the Panthers last night. On the second half of a back-to-back, David Rittich made his fourth NHL start and after a 5-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning the day before, the Flames were looking to continue their momentum. There was no score after a balanced first period that saw Rittich make several key saves and both teams fail to score on two powerplay attempts. The Panthers, however, opened the second on the powerplay that struck just 27 seconds into the middle frame. The Flames responded 33 seconds later with a goal of their own, Sean Monahan buried his 21st goal of the season off a quick passing play. The Flames owned the rest of the second period, adding goals from Matthew Tkachuk and a powerplay marker from Johnny Gaudreau. They took a 3-1 lead into the third. The Panthers pulled within one goal off Evgenii Dadonov’s second of the game, but Calgary would add an empty netter off a sensational play by Tkachuk to seal it.
What an unbelievable effort by Matthew Tkachuk to get the puck out and then get the assist on Backlund's ENG. This kid is something special. pic.twitter.com/WrvNgro4JZ
— Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL) January 13, 2018
The Flames are riding a six game winning streak, are just one point back of the Los Angeles Kings for second in the Pacific Division, and are undoubtedly the hottest team in the League right now.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Michael Stone led the Flames at 57.1% CF.
- Only five Flames players had above 50% CF: the entire top line and the entire third pairing.
- The Flames’ third line had the worst CF% on the team, Mark Jankowski the lowest at 28.6%.
- Alex Petrovic led the Panthers at 85.75 CF.
- The Panthers’ top line of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Dadonov were an offensive machine at a combined 73.2% SCF.
- Just six Panthers players had below 50% CF, Derek MacKenzie the lowest at 36.4%.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Player of the Game
The Flames were outshot 43-29, outchanced in scoring areas 46-31, and outchanced in high danger areas 17-11. POTG honours can only be awarded to Rittich. He followed in his goaltending partner’s footsteps last night, making many key saves to preserve the Flames’ chances to extend their winning streak. He’s been fantastic in every start he’s made this season and it really looks like he’s solidified the backup role on this team. With more performances like this, the Flames can afford to give Mike Smith a much needed break every now and then.
Thoughts on the Game
Karim: In just a couple short weeks, the Flames have come a long way from being multiple points outside the playoff picture to just one behind the Kings for second in the Pacific. A six game winning streak can sure do wonders for the team, but these points were even more important considering they were eating up games while the Sharks, the team hot on their tail, sat idle during their bye week. Now the pressure shifts to the Sharks who have to actually win their games in hand to catch up to the Flames. It’s a nice position to be in.
The third line got absolutely buried last night. They didn’t look as bad as the numbers suggest, but they really weren’t effective in creating opportunities from their offensive zone time. Thankfully, the top-six is back in business and scored all four goals last night. You can’t expect the third line to be amazing every night, that’s why they’re on the third line, but hopefully this doesn’t turn into a long stretch where they all start to slump like we’ve seen in the past. I think it’s time for Garnet Hathaway to shift down to the fourth and led Andrew Mangiapane, who looked good last night, to ascend to that secondary scoring line.
If Glen Gulutzan isn’t going to scratch Troy Brouwer, he should at least consider sitting him out on back-to-backs. He’s slow, makes terrible defensive decisions, and is a real deterrence to what used to be one of the most effective lines in the entire NHL. He wasn’t great against the Lightning, but was truly terrible last night against the Panthers. I get that coaches usually don’t want to break up lineups that are winning but some considerations need to be made regarding Brouwer. It’s frustrating watching him try to play hockey and fail at it on every shift.
This is the type of roll the Flames needed to get back into playoff contention. They are by no means out of the woods yet, and need to keep putting up points especially against division rivals. This looked like the most important month for the team and it sure looks to be shaping up like that.
What needs to be fixed? Someone to flank Backlund and Takchuk.
Brouwer needs to get off that line. Whether it’s Mangiapane, Sam Bennett, or even Hathaway up there, something needs to change.
What needs to continue? That powerplay?
Well, the Flames have scored powerplay goals in two consecutive games. Maybe they actually did watch footage of the Tampa powerplay before their game last night.
The Flames wrap up their road trip against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night. Going for their seventh straight, a victory against the ‘Canes would propel them into second place in the Pacific Division behind only the Vegas Golden Knights. With their bye week following Sunday’s game, another two points would go a long way in their odds of holding a playoff spot the next time they hit the ice.