The Calgary Flames started their week with Monday Night hockey against the Toronto Maple Leafs. After managing just one point in three games last week, the Flames were looking to fix their issues and get back into their winning ways. Facing the league’s highest scoring team, the Flames emerged victorious.
The Flames opened up the game with one of their cleanest periods to date. They simply outplayed their opponent, and fared rather well at shutting down the potent Toronto offence. Calgary looked far better than their counterparts to start the game. Despite not being able to solve Frederik Andersen, they had plenty of chances and were all over the Leafs’ miscues.
Heading into the second on the penalty-kill due to a James Neal interference late in the first, the Flames continued to suppress the Leafs and kept them to the outside. It wasn’t until past the halfway point of the game that the Leafs mustered their tenth shot on goal.
The Flames continued on with their game plan. The high-paced between these two teams was complemented with a lot of good chances for the Flames and a lot of miscommunications for the Leafs.
The Flames on a whole were solid defensively, and were able to keep the Leafs at bay. On top of that, they were also getting good chances in the offensive zone and seemed poised to break through Andersen sooner or later.
The best chances in the period came when Johnny Gaudreau touched the puck. Which time? Every time. He stood out among the masses and made hard plays on the puck, making for a offensive nightmare for the Leafs. Several times in the second period, Gaudreau getting a goal seem imminent. However, the game remained goalless after 40 minutes.
Luckily early in the third, the Flames finally found the back of the net, scoring twice in less than a minute. Sean Monahan scored the first goal on the powerplay, being in perfect position to pickup a rebound and put the puck past Andersen.
With the Leafs back in their defensive end on the ensuing faceoff, Morgan Rielly sent an errant pass towards Mitch Marner, who couldn’t corral it. Monahan kept the puck onside and found Gaudreau in the corner to one-time a pass to a wide-open Elias Lindholm. He himself one-timed the puck to beat Andersen and put the Flames up 2-0.
Less than four minutes to go in the third, the Leafs got within one, capitalizing on a 5-on-3 powerplay. Nazem Kadri scored the Leafs’ first goal in his 500th NHL game.
Late-period pressure from the trailing team almost paid off; a shot going wide landed on the backside of the net, prompting the erroneous goal horn and more erroneous Leafs celebration. The Flames picked up the puck to continue play but the whistle was blown due to the chaotic confusion on the ice.
That was the closest the Leafs got to tying the game, and Michael Frolik scored on the empty net to seal the Flames’ first win in four games. They now head to Buffalo for their second game in as many nights.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Neal led his team with six individual CF and four scoring chances.
- Lindholm led the Flames with a 62.5% CF.
- Juuso Valimaki was good when with Rasmus Andersson, the pairing was even at 50% CF, when Valimaki was away from Andersson, he dropped to 11.1% CF.
Toronto Maple Leafs
- Zach Hyman led his team with six individual CF and four scoring chances, and 2 high-danger CF.
- Frederik Gauthier had a game-high 72.7% CF.
- John Tavares dominated in the faceoff circle, going 75%.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Hathaway – Ryan – Dube
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson
Toronto Maple Leafs
Thoughts on the Game
The Flames put together a performance that looked worlds apart from their previous outings. After their shootout loss against the Washington Capitals, the Flames had already appeared to make amends to their on-ice performance, and last night’s game against Toronto was a good indication that they’re trending in the right direction.
The Flames were clearly the better team for the duration of the game, and for the most part stifled the Leafs’ offence. It wasn’t until midway through the third period that the Leafs picked up their desperation levels and changed the momentum.
Prior to that, the Flames were all over the Leafs. They forced plenty of turnovers when the Leafs were in their own zone, and kept Andersen on his toes for much of the game.
The top line for the Flames frequently made the Leafs look silly, mostly due to Gaudreau dancing around the Leaf’s defence. Lindholm was also aggressive on the puck and found shooting lanes more often than not. It was Monahan who seemed relatively quiet in terms of shooting the puck, but the line on a whole was very impressive.
On the other side of the ice, the Leafs went large stretches without shots on net. Their top players seemed to have miscue after miscue, and not much was generated at all.
It didn’t help the Leaf’s case that the Flames were much better at defence. They looked alert and were reading plays rather well; a refreshing sight after the past few games.
As the Leafs were without Auston Matthews due to a shoulder injury, they had to shuffle their lines and the Flames were able to take advantage of the resulting domino effect. The Leafs did not seem very dangerous on the ice at all and for lengthy portions of time, were unable to set any sustained offensive pressure.
The Flames earned their win last night, and will have to prove themselves once again tonight in Buffalo.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: Valimaki and Andersson are an extremely fun rookie pairing to watch. They’re strong on the puck and have adapted quickly to the NHL.
Bad: Valimaki away from Andersson was brutal. In one minute of ice time with TJ Brodie and two and half minutes of ice time with Travis Hamonic, Valimaki and co. were not able to hold the Leafs back at all, giving up eight Corsi against.
Beautiful: The passing work from the entire team was clean and efficient. While some plays probably saw one or two passes too many, for the most part, their passing was seamless and often flustered the Leafs.
Opponent: Buffalo Sabres
Standings: Fifth in Atlantic Division
Season Series: 0-0
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images