It was a doozy at the ‘Dome. The Calgary Flames, reeling after their uninspiring opening day loss to the Vancouver Canucks just three nights prior, hosted the same Canucks for a rematch last night. Travis Hamonic, out with a facial fracture after fighting Erik Gudbranson for a late hit on rookie Dillon Dube just eight seconds into his first shift, was replaced by the tough and gritty Dalton Prout on the second pair. All signs pointed to this game being every bit as nasty as the previous.
The Flames would strike first just 12 seconds into the game. Elias Lindholm would tip in a TJ Brodie point shot for his first goal in Flames colours, putting the home team up by one early. The first period was back and forth, with each team tallying two markers in the first 20. Elias Pettersson evened things up midway through the frame and, adding to the embarrassing powerplay record established in the first game where the Flames went 0/7, Brandon Sutter scored a shorthanded goal just a few minutes later. Mark Giordano tied the game with under three to go in the first.
The second was more of the same. Pettersson and Bo Horvat scored powerplay goals for the Canucks, the latter coming on a 5on3, but the Flames would finally strike with the man advantage with Johnny Gaudreau depositing a juicy rebound into a wide open Canucks net. Through two periods, the Canucks held a one goal lead, Mike Smith had made just 8 saves on 12 shots, and there were no fights.
In the final frame, the Flames ran away with it. They would score another two powerplay goals from Sean Monahan and Lindholm to take the lead, and added two empty netters by Austin Czarnik and Michael Frolik to seal the deal. The Flames walked away with a hard fought victory and a rejuvenated powerplay. Matthew Tkachuk had four assists and is tied for the NHL scoring lead with five points in two games.
The Flames now sit tied with the Canucks for third in the Pacific with an even goal differential.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
- Czarnik was the Corsi leader at 80.8% CF.
- Juuso Valimaki finished with a 13-1 iSCF differential for 92.9 SCF% on the night.
- The MMA line each finished 5-0 in iHDCF differential for 100 HDCF% on the night.
- Loui Eriksson was the Corsi leader at 76.7% CF.
- Eriksson and Pettersson each finished at 81.8% SCF.
- Eriksson and Nikolay Goldobin finished at 7-1 iHDCF differential for 87.5% HDCF on the night.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Czarnik
Dube – Ryan – Neal
Bennett – Jankowski – Frolik
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Stone
Valimaki – Prout
Baertschi – Horvat – Boeser
Goldobin – Pettersson – Eriksson
Leipsic – Sutter – Motte
Granlund – Beagle – Virtanen
Edler – Tanev
Del Zotto – Stecher
Pouliot – Gudbranson
Thoughts on the Game
With a brand new team and so many new faces, it’s always difficult to predict how the team will do on the ice, even if they look great on paper. After the season opener on Wednesday, there looked to be some major issues with the Flames, and it didn’t seem like anything had changed from last season. Well, that sure changed.
Last night’s game was truly inspiring. Not only breaking through on the powerplay, but scoring three goals and looking dangerous on most of them was a fantastic breakthrough for this team. The powerplay looked invigorated with new life and operated with a purpose. They didn’t default to the neutral zone drop pass every time, instead they read the opposition and adjusted accordingly. Lindholm looked great on the top line next to Gaudreau and Monahan yet again and the MMA line was buzzing the whole night.
The third line of Dube, Derek Ryan, and James Neal all finished below 50% CF and don’t seem to have the same dangerous look as the top six. I do think Czarnik is a better option than Frolik on the second line, but Neal and Tkachuk could do some serious damage if paired together. Perhaps we see Neal move up a line in the near future. He only played 16:33 in the game, and a guy with his offensive instincts should be playing more.
Smith, however, was a true sore spot for the team last night. He finished with just an .800 SV%, and other than his incredible glove save in the third period, really didn’t make any high quality saves in the game. He is not having a great start to the year and even if a good percentage of the shots he faced were high danger, he has to mix in a save every once in a while.
Another sore spot last night was Prout. Injected into the lineup for toughness, the only remotely interesting thing he did last night was take an interference penalty trying to hit Pettersson along the boards. He didn’t fight anyone, he didn’t really make any big hits, and was a massive liability in the defensive zone. He is not an NHLer, didn’t do anything to bring toughness to the game, and really didn’t need to be in the lineup last night.
On that note, Prout’s partner Valimaki, who celebrated his 20th birthday last night, was sensational. And he was sensational despite playing next to Prout. For perspective, Prout was 81.82% CF with Valimaki and just 11.1% without him. The rookie had a wonderful game and he is looking like he really belong in the NHL.
That was a fun win, but now the Flames head on one of the most difficult stretches of their schedule facing three tough Central teams. They need to build on the momentum of the win last night to keep pace in a tight Pacific Division.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Gaud: Three (3) powerplay goals scored on a system that was mobile, unpredictable, and effective.
Bad: Two powerplay goals and a shorthanded goal allowed.
Ugly: Smith, four goals allowed on 20 shots.
Opponent: Nashville Predators
Standings: 4th in Central Division
Season Series: 0-0-0
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images