The Calgary Flames came into Denver looking to bounce back from their loss against the St. Louis Blues. On the last stop of their three game road trip, the Flames looked to end things strong against the Colorado Avalanche.
One thing that’s already been made clear by this year’s Flames is that they don’t give up. A season ago, an early deficit often spelled disaster for the Flames, who always looked deflated and discombobulated when they trailed. A key timeout called by coach Bill Peters, after the second goal, seemed to be the turning point for the team.
Though early in the season, the team seems to have shaken off their demons of yesteryear and look locked and ready to play a full 60 minutes every game. Last night was no exception.
The Flames seemed lucky to escape the first period being down just two goals, but they were able to settle down and figure out their game on the fly. During the second and third periods, the Flames took over and barely gave Colorado anything to work with.
Sam Bennett officially scored his first goal of the season halfway through the second period, and it was big. The Flames were already controlling the game at this point, and Bennett’s goal seemed to reemphasize the belief that they already had: they weren’t leaving Denver without to win.
The Avalanche retreated quickly and seemed to rely too heavily on Semyon Varlamov to carry them through the game. Save after save, their starter seemed to do the impossible and the puck refused to go into the net.
It wasn’t until the dying minutes of the third—Flames net empty—that the Flames were finally able to tie up the game. A neutral zone turn over gave the Flames control of the puck, and good awareness from James Neal kept the play onside. The resulting pressure allowed Elias Lindholm to craft the perfect turnover to gain the puck, and he fired off a laser to beat Varlamov.
With both teams heading into overtime for the first time this season, the Flames had momentum on their side. For the majority of the second and third periods, the Avalanche looked tired and unable to respond to the Flames relentless pressure.
It didn’t take long for Johnny Gaudreau to get a breakaway and seal the comeback for the Flames. David Rittich held his arms up in celebration before Gaudreau even crossed the blueline—he just seemed to know that this game was won, and he was right.
Earning his first win of the season, Rittich and the Flames return back to Calgary, picking up four of six points on their successful Central division road trip.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Gaudreau had a game-high seven individual corsi credited to him, three of which were high-danger
- Bennett led the game with 80.0% CF, being on the ice for 16 corsi for and just 4 against
- Dillon Dube started in the offensive zone just 25% of the time, but had 68.8% CF
- Mikko Rantanen was the only player on the Avalanche to have a positive CF at 58.3%
- The two Tyson’s did not fare well, Barrie ended at 26.3% CF, Jost a game-worst at 22.7% CF
- Carl Soderberg had five individual corsi for, two of which were scoring chances
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Czarnik
Bennett – Dube – Neal
Ryan – Jankowski – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Valimaki – Stone
Hanifin – Andersson
Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Kerfoot – Jost – Wilson
Nieto – Soderberg – Bourque
Kamenev – Compher – Calvert
Girard – Johnson
Cole – Barrie
Zadorov – Nemeth
Thoughts on the Game
The Flames deserved to win last night. Their team composition is holistically better than the Avalanche’s. Colorado arguably has a better top line, but the Flames have the better overall roster.
Being down early seemed to be more nerve-wracking for the fans that it was for the team. The Flames did not seem to mind that they were down, and played high pace hockey that the Avalanche just didn’t seem to be able to keep up with.
This style of play, especially while down, will certainly lead to better outcomes and more importantly, more standings points. It’s been seen in previous games this season that when the Flames are down, they seem to find higher and higher gears.
A major difference between this team compared to past iterations of the Flames: this time, they’re dominating the flow of the game. At even-strength, the Flames are more poised, have better control of the pace, and they play hard until the buzzer sounds.
Perhaps it’s the speed and energy of the younger forward corps, but it definitely looks like they have a new-found tenacity that was sorely missed last season. The line-juggling the Bill Peters employed showed urgency, and the numerous options the Flames have upfront did not hinder the play of any new line combination.
This bodes well for the Flames as the season progresses, having four lines they can mix and deploy can give them proper responses to the less-than-ideal situations they will find themselves in, such as last night.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Gaud: Resilience and relentlessness paid off, with two standing points to show for it.
Bad: The powerplay failed to convert on four attempts, despite a few good chances.
Ugly: Both goals against were due to defensive lapses that left Rittich out to dry.
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Standings: Second in Atlantic Division
Season Series: 0-0
Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images