Since suffering one of the worst losses in franchise history to the Pittsburgh Penguins just over a week ago, the Calgary Flames have been among the best teams in the NHL. Riding a three game winning streak with points in four straight, they looked to keep things going against the Chicago Blackhawks last night.
The game didn’t start off the way anyone hoped it would. Just 2:14 into the first period, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was tagged with a major penalty and a game misconduct for a dangerous hit to Dillon Dube. Dube suffered a bleeding nose and was clearly shaken up from the hit. He was pulled by concussion spotters and did not return to the game. On the ensuing five-minute powerplay, the Flames scored the game’s first goal off the stick of Sean Monahan. However, David Rittich was shaky in the Flames’ crease and the ‘Hawks struck back with a Jonathan Toews 5-on-3 powerplay goal. Jan Rutta got Chicago the lead off a floater in the final minute of the first, and the Flames headed to the locker room down by one after one.
The two teams traded goals in the second. Brandon Saad extended Chicago’s lead to two goals, but Matthew Tkachuk answered back with a beautiful far-side snipe to keep the Flames’ deficit at one. The Flames are the best third period team in the league and, after outplaying Blackhawks for most of the game, the stage was set for another comeback.
And come back is exactly what they did. The Flames were absolutely relentless in the game’s final frame, outshooting Chicago 20-4 after all was said and done. The Flames got goals from Monahan, Michael Frolik, and an empty-netter from Mikael Backlund to seal the deal. It was a great effort by the Flames, again completely outplaying their opposition and sticking with their game despite being down early. They earned a valuable two points to stave off the surging Oilers and hold their first-place spot in the Pacific Division.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Elias Lindholm posted a game high 76.7% CF% in last night’s contest, with 23 CF and just 7 CA.
- Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie tied for the team lead with 10 high danger chances.
- Mark Jankowski was the worst Corsi player on the team with 14.3% CF%.
- Patrick Kane was almost completely handled last night posting a putrid 24.0% CF%, with 6CF and a whopping 19 CA.
- The best Blackhawk was Alexandre Fortin, who posted a 55.6% CF%, albeit in just over nine minutes of ice time.
- Just two Blackhawks were over 50% SCF% in the game, Fortin and Rutta.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Hathaway – Ryan – Dube
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson
DeBrincat – Toews – Saad
Schmaltz – Anisimov – Kane
Kunitz – Kampf – Kahun
Fortin – Kruger – Martinsen
Keith – Jokiharju
Gustafsson – Seabrook
Manning – Rutta
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
I have to admit, I didn’t think the Flames would be able to come back and win this one. It felt as though the Blackhawks would be able to cling to their early lead and hold on despite being outplayed by the Flames. Boy am I happy to have been wrong.
It was nice to see Rittich get the start, but he didn’t look very good at all last night. You can’t fault him for the first goal he let in, but the second was a high floater that wasn’t all that dangerous, and the third was a softie. Yes, he only let in three and held the fort in the first period when the Blackhawks were at their best, but letting in three goals on 15 shots isn’t what you want to see. The goaltending in Calgary will probably be a story line for the entire year, and on a night where I was looking for Rittich to make a statement for why Bill Peters should start him every night, he faltered. There’s no doubt that they’ll return to Smith in Anaheim.
Flames games have become quite exciting! I enjoy a third period comeback win as much as anybody, but they’re really playing with fire here, no pun intended. Having the ability to come back in a game is a very nice thing, something that was sorely lacking last year, and even the players have said they never feel like they’re out of a game no matter how many goals they’re down by. It’s a nice thing to hear, but with the way they’ve been playing, they should be holding leads, not playing catch-up. The Flames are the fourth best Corsi team in the NHL, have generated the fourth most scoring chances, and generated the second most high danger chances. They need to start cashing in on the opportunities they create. This season’s comebacks aren’t on the same level as the head-scratching, lucky ones they had in 2015. These ones are a result of solid play and excellent possession numbers and if they start cashing in on their chances just a little bit more, they will be among the league’s best.
The criticism and nitpicking aside, let’s not take away from what was an excellent game. The Flames played hard, they battled back, and they took it to a resurgent Blackhawks team. They pushed the play all night long and looked like a truly good team. With a 9-5-1 record, the Flames sit in fist place in the Pacific Division, second place in the West, and third place overall. They have as many points as Tampa Bay, and more than Toronto. Let’s hope they can keep it up!
Please say a prayer for Dube. With the grace of the hockey gods, he will be okay.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: The fact that the Flames still managed to eke out the win after being down early. Rittich wasn’t particularly great last night, but the Flames were definitely the better team and found a way to get the win.
Bad: Keith’s hit on Dube. It was gutless and uncalled for, and despite Keith not having a history of being a malicious player, that kind of hit is not okay and needs to at least be reviewed by Player Safety.
Beautiful: Tkachuk’s snipe to start the comeback. It was absolutely filthy, was not appropriate for all audiences, and he should be ashamed of himself.
Opponent: Anaheim Ducks
Standings: 7th in Pacific
Season Series: 0-0-0