The Calgary Flames didn’t have much time to celebrate their spectacular win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they made the quick drive across the border to face the Buffalo Sabres last night. On the tail end of a back-to-back, amid a quick two game Eastern Conference road-trip, the odds were stacked against the Flames as they looked to go for the sweep.
Things got off to a rockier start than the previous game, as the Flames looked a bit discombobulated across all zones. They simply were not as polished as they were against the Leafs. Lucky for them, the Sabres weren’t able to play above the Flames by any means, as they too looked a tad sloppy as well.
The two players on the ice that didn’t look out of sorts? The goaltenders. David Rittich and Carter Hutton both were strong in the opening frame, with the Buffalo starter getting the edge in terms of quality stops. Both netminders were on top of their games, not only in the first period but throughout the entirety of the game. Of course, Rittich would not leave the first period unscathed, as a laser of a shot from Jack Eichel would be the only mark on the score-sheet.
The second period would start on a controversial note, which is becoming too frequent of a phrase for the Flames, as an early whistle would deny Johnny Gaudreau of a surefire goal. Immediately after what can only be described as the save of the year from Hutton, Gaudreau’s tap in was immediately waved off; much to the chagrin of the Flames forward.
Don’t worry though, he would get his revenge.
After almost two full periods of constant Hutton saves and Flames dominance, the visitors would finally solve the Buffalo netminder. With just under a minute to go, a tip from Matthew Tkachuk would find it’s way into the back of the net, and send the game into overtime.
In the extra frame, after killing a penalty with Tkachuk in the box, Gaudreau would capitalize on a two-on-one with Mark Giordano to put the game to rest. The Flames completed another miraculous comeback this season, and with the win they jumped into first in the Pacific Division (for about two hours).
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- There was a four-way tie for the best CF% at 5v5 on the Flames, with Derek Ryan, Noah Hanifin, Sean Monahan, and Gaudreau all posting 66.7%.
- In addition to those players, the Flames also had six players who posted CF%’s above 60.0%.
- Garnet Hathaway and Mark Jankowski were both hemmed in their own zone, posting CF%’s of 38.5% and 32.0% at 5v5. Both players TOI would be limited in the third period due to this poor performance.
- The Sabres only had five players post positive possession ratings last night, with Casey Nelson and Jason Pominville leading the way at 66.7%.
- Conor Sheary and Rasmus Ristolainen posted the worst CF% at 5v5 in the game at 25.0% each.
- Marco Scandella was on the ice for five HDCA last night, the most of all skaters.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Hathaway – Ryan – Dube
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson
Skinner – Eichel – Pominville
Sheary – Sobotka – Reinhart
Thompson – Mittelstadt – Okposo
Berglund – Larsson – Girgensons
McCabe – Ristolainen
Scandella – Bogosian
Dahlin – Nelson
Thoughts on the Game
What a game. It had absolutely everything you could ask for in terms of an NHL match-up: amazing goaltending, countless scoring chances, last minute goals, and an overtime thriller. Of course this if from the perspective of a Flames fan, sorry Buffalo!
It’s crazy to think that six days ago we were talking about the Flames hitting rock bottom against the Penguins. After going 2-0-1 since then, the Flames now sit tied for first in the Pacific Division. Crazy how much a few wins will do to a team in this jam-packed league.
The Flames looked once again extremely cohesive last night over the final 40 minutes. It almost takes a little bit for the team to find its footing, but on a back-to-back the opening period is always expected to be a bit muted. What I did love in this game was the promotion of James Neal to the second line in the third period with Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund. I think having him in the right wing spot gives the line a much stronger threat in terms of scoring, albeit at the cost of a bit of defense. Neal has been throwing a ton of shots on net, and now if he can continue to play with Backlund and Tkachuk, they are bound to start trickling past the red line.
What I also loved about last night was continuing to see Bill Peters’ usage of his young players. On the tying goal, Rasmus Andersson was on the ice with Giordano and made an excellent play to keep the puck onside. In overtime, Juuso Valimaki was on the ice for the 4-on-3 penalty kill. Peters puts a ton of faith in his young players, which is a phenomenal sign of confidence. These players are only going to learn these types of situations by playing in them, not watching from the sidelines or press box.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: Monahan pitched in assists on both the tying goal, and the overtime winner. This gives him six points over his last four games.
Bad: Michael Frolik played only 8:36 over the course of the entire game, and was on the ice for seven SCA, three of which were HDCA. He was stapled to the bench in the third period.
Beautiful: Rittich pushed his record as a starter this season to 3-1-0, with a 2.08 GAA and a 0.939 SV%.
Opponent: Colorado Avalanche
Standings: 2nd in the Central Division
Season Series: 1-0-0
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images