The Calgary Flames opened a six game road trip at the United Center last night to face the Chicago Blackhawks in their final meeting of the season. The Flames had won the previous two matches by identical 4-3 overtime decisions, and looked to sweep the season series against the Blackhawks for the first time since the 1988-89 season. Jeff Glass, a Calgary native, started for the Blackhawks for the third time against the Flames, looking for his first win against his hometown club.

The Blackhawks opened the scoring early in the first period. Alex DeBrincat scored his 19th of the year, on the powerplay. The Flames had a lengthy 5on3 to equalize later in the period, but were unable to generate more than a single shot on goal. Fortunately, the Flames tied the game in the second period thanks to a TJ Brodie shot that deflected in off Dougie Hamilton‘s skate. There was no distinct kicking motion and the marker counted, Hamilton’s ninth of the season. The game was a close battle up until the dying minutes of the third period when Michael Stone‘s point shot angled into the top corner over Glass’ blocker. It sure looked like the shot was tipped by Johnny Gaudreau in front, but official credit was given to Stone. That decision may change today, however. Regardless, the Flames had their first lead of the game with 3:30 left to play. Sean Monahan would add an empty net goal which would stand as the game winner; Chicago scored one more with 6.1 seconds left with the extra attacker. The Flames earned a valuable two points and climbed back into third place in the Pacific Division.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 44.9% 45.9% 46.4%
SCF 41.7% 41.0% 42.5%
HDCF 43.8% 45.5% 47.9%

5v5 Player Stats

  • Just six Flames skaters posted over 50% CF, Micheal Ferland leading the way at 65.6% CF.
  • Curtis Lazar was the worst possession player on the team at 11.1% CF.
  • Mark Giordano generated 10 scoring chances in the contest.
  • With 19 Corsi events for, Ryan Hartman led the Blackhawks with 86.4% CF.
  • Duncan Keith was the worst possession player for the Blackhawks at 38.1% CF.
  • Patrick Kane posted a 100% HDCF with five high danger chances for.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

POTG honours go to Ferland. The Flames’ top line of Ferland, Gaudreau, and Monahan were excellent last night, largely covering up the deficiencies of the third and fourth lines. Ferland was on for all three Flames goals, was the best possession player on the team, and generated seven scoring chances (two of them high danger). He has been nothing short of a revelation this season and been one of the team’s most important players.

Thoughts on the Game

Karim: The last time the Flames swept the season series against Chicago was when they won the Stanley Cup in 1988-89. Take that as you will.

The bottom of the roster was overrun last night and the Flames were fortunate to win on the backs of their top six and top defense pairing. With two goals going to video review last night and both taking a long time to conclude, I question the value of extended video review in today’s NHL. I get that you want to get the call right, but man, last night was a major waste of time. The more I wrestle with ideas on how to improve video review, especially for goaltender interference, the more I seem to like the idea of extending the crease and not letting any offensive skater step inside. It might not be the best idea and definitely comes with its own set of issues, but at least we won’t be burning the midnight oil trying to figure out if the goalie was kicked in the groin or not.

Brodie had one of his worst nights in a long time. I feel for the guy, it’s been a rough season for him on and off the ice but with the Flames needing a big push to make the postseason, I think it’s time to shuffle those defense pairings a little bit. The top pairing of Girodano and Hamilton shouldn’t be touched, but perhaps a Kulak-Hamonic and Brodie-Stone pairing could be better. Probably not, but maybe it’s worth a shot.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Curtis Lazar’s ice time.

It’s baffling how Lazar has managed to stay a regular in the lineup for so long. He’s so ineffective and generates nothing offensively. He needs to sit out a game or three and let someone else give it a shot.

What needs to continue? Mikael Backlund. 

Ever since Michael Folik rejoined the team, Mikael Backlund looks like a man on a mission. He’s pushing the puck up the ice, shooting it more, and looks dangerous offensively. It’s almost as if he can now rely on Frolik to handle the defensive side while he focuses a bit more on the offense. His attempt to tuck the puck past Glass on a partial break last night would have been on highlight reels across the continent had it gone in. Watch for Backlund’s name to start appearing more on the score sheet in final stretch of the season.

Next Game

The Flames continue their road trip on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils have been a surprisingly good team this year and despite being without starting netminder Cory Schneider, has kept pace in the East. The Flames look to extend their winning streak to three games and build on two big wins against the Blackhawks.

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