21

The first meeting between the Calgary Flames and Vegas Golden Knights of the season was wildly entertaining. The Flames found their scoring touch, emerged victorious, and earned two big points to propel them back to the top of the Pacific Division.

It didn’t take long in the first for the Flames to open up the scoring. Less than three minutes into the game, Calgary’s power play scored thanks to some nifty passing that scrambled up the Vegas defence, leaving Matthew Tkachuk wide open for the goal.

Not long after that, Johnny Gaudreau padded the Flames’ lead. Elias Lindholm entered the offensive zone, slowed the play down and found Sean Monahan who immediately found Gaudreau. A surgical shot beat Malcolm Subban glove-side.

Not long after that, a quick transition from the Flames’ defensive zone to the offensive zone led to Gaudreau picking up a loose puck. His passing target was Monahan and Monahan’s target was the net. Three-zero for the home team.

Not long after that, the Flames held offensive pressure and cycled the puck. When the puck reached T.J. Brodie, he took a shot from the blue line and scored his first of the season.

Not long after that, the Flames were back on the power play. Gaudreau found Tkachuk in the slot, who shot the puck off the post. Monahan promptly kicked the ensuing rebound to himself and put it into the wide open net.

The Flames headed into the first intermission with their best first period in the Saddledome in the modern era. Gaudreau had four points, Monahan had two goals, and the Flames were running over the Golden Knights.

The second period started off the same way the first period ended. Tkachuk scored the sixth Flames’ goal of the night 24 seconds into the frame.

Not long after that, a Derek Ryan shot was deflected off Sam Bennett into the net. Make that seven goals for the Flames.

No more goals were scored during the second, but David Rittich made a spectacular breakaway save on Reilly Smith to keep the Golden Knights scoreless.

In the first minute of the third, the Golden Knights finally scored. On Vegas’ 14th shot of the game, Nick Holden beat Rittich with a laser. They got their second goal of the night on the power play; Max Pacioretty scored to make the score 7-2 for the home team.

The Golden Knights tried to turn on the pressure in the third but the Flames were not letting up in their own zone. Rittich closed out the rest of the game with no intentions of giving up a third goal.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 52.9% 50.6% 55.8%
SCF 56.0% 52.5% 55.5%
HDCF 57.1% 46.7% 48.0%

5v5 Player Stats

Calgary Flames

  • Gaudreau was the best possession player on the ice last night, posting a CF% of 68.4%
  • His linemates, Lindholm and Monahan, were close behind at 66.7% and 59.1% respectively
  • Michael Frolik posted a team worst CF% of 40.0%
  • James Neal, while unable to score against his former team, was on the ice for 4 HDCF

Vegas Golden Knights

Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Line Combinations

Calgary Flames

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Dube – Jankowski – Neal
Frolik – Ryan – Hathaway

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson

Rittich
Smith

Vegas Golden Knights

Marchessault – Karlsson – Smith
Pacioretty – Eakin – Tuch
Nosek – Carpenter – Hyka
Carrier – Bellemare – Reaves

Theodore – Schmidt
Miller – McNabb
Engelland – Holden

Subban
Fleury

Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff

Thoughts on the Game

The Flames knew they were playing against a tired team, but even they themselves probably did not expect to get off to the start that they did. Scoring five goals in the first period is a rarity as it is, but for the Flames—the team that does its best in the third period—it must have felt like a dream.

The Golden Knights looked tired and were largely unable to create any sustained offence at all. There weren’t any distinct moments where the Flames looked trapped in their zone. They were more tenacious on the puck and never gave Vegas a chance.

It’s a joy not spending words discussing Calgary’s goaltending  woes. Rittich has been terrific in his last two starts and there’s no reason not to give him an extended stint at this point. He did not have a large body of work from the Golden Knights, but he has looked sharp in net.

Much to the relief of the whole team, they didn’t have to depend on their goaltender to win them the game. Rittich, as he puts it, simply did his job. He didn’t make every save and probably would want a goal or two back, but the players in front of him also did their jobs too.

Of course games won’t always start off as well as it did for Calgary, but it was a healthy dose of not trailing for the Flames. It’ll do them wonders to play through a whole game not worrying about the score. They didn’t have to worry about outplaying their opponent in the third as they’ve often had to. They just had to play their own game.

The Flames are currently first in the Pacific. Not a bad spot to be in as the season officially hit the quarter mark for Calgary.

The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Gaud: David Rittich didn’t have to be perfect in net, and he wasn’t. On his second straight start, he did just fine.

Bad: He probably wanted it more than anyone else, but Neal failed to score his 500th career point against his old team.

Beautiful: That first period was spectacular. A start that good will change the game flow and player usage, but the Flames made their start count, getting the win.

Next Game

Opponent: Winnipeg Jets
Record: 12-5-2
Standings: 2nd in the Central
Season Series: 0-0-0


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