The Calgary Flames faced one of their toughest opponents so far in 2018-19 in the Winnipeg Jets. Looking to earn their third win in their four game home-stand, the Flames showed up, played their hockey, and got their two points. They head into American Thanksgiving atop the Pacific division.
The game started off on the wrong foot, as just 15 seconds in, Brandon Tanev outworked Austin Czarnik (a late roster change due to a Michael Frolik injury) and beat David Rittich.
Being down early did not matter to Dillon Dube, who scored his first NHL goal less than two minutes later. The Flames rookie had been doing everything in his power to get his first goal and Dube finally did it, beating Connor Hellebuyck five-hole.
The Flames pushed onward and sustained their offensive pressure. Matthew Tkachuk stole the puck right between the hash marks, finding Sam Bennett, who scored his second goal in as many games.
Tkachuk went on to score a goal of his own, netting his 12th goal of the season. Starting from his own end, he skated through the neutral zone with speed, getting off a shot just as he entered the Jets’ zone. The Flames’ third goal of the game would end the night for Hellebuyck; the Jets opting to put Laurent Broissoit in relief.
The Flames’ fourth line would score again before the period was over. Mark Jankowski came out with the puck against Tanev, and skated around the back of the net for a wrap-around shot that deflected off of Tyler Myers‘ skate for the Flames’ fourth goal of the game.
With less than a minute remaining in the first period, Sean Monahan took the puck into the offensive zone and found Johnny Gaudreau, who wasn’t going to be denied entry into the Flames’ scoring spree.
That’s two games in a row where the Flames scored five goals in the first period, a feat that hasn’t been achieved by any team in the league in the salary cap era until now.
The Jets came out in the second period with a barrage of shots on Rittich in all sorts of situations. Rittich was up to the task though, as he was calm and poised, putting himself in the best position to make as many saves as he can.
One shot went off the post that Rittich quickly corralled for the whistle, and Dustin Byfuglien proceeded to poke at the goaltender’s glove, sparking a burst of rage from the Rittich that he was able to laugh off by the Flames’ bench the very next shift.
A late period penalty on Dube would lead to a few good Jets chances, but as Dube stepped out of the box, Patrik Laine received a pass in his favourite spot from Blake Wheeler and he made no mistake. The score was 5-2 entering the second intermission.
In the third, the Jets continued to push. A delay of game from Juuso Valimaki would ultimately lead to Laine’s second of the game, and the Jets converted on the powerplay for the first time in the game.
With the Jets being down just two, things got interesting. They were relentless and almost got within one if it wasn’t for Rittich getting tripped up by Jacob Trouba moments before Bryan Little scored. Neither the initial review nor the coach’s challenge on behalf of Paul Maurice went in the Jets’ favour, and they were still down by two.
The Jets refused to give up and the Flames were hanging on, trying to shut down the Jets. In the late third with the Jets’ net empty, Derek Ryan won a key faceoff and the Flames proceeded to get the puck out of the zone. Gaudreau could have took the shot for the game-sealing goal, but opted to pass it to Ryan, who had an excellent third period capped by the empty-net goal.
Calgary was tested by the Jets through the second and third periods, and give the Jets credit, they were relentless. But the Flames were able to hang on for the win. That’s six straight wins in six starts for Rittich, the latest three being all at home.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- The Flames only had three players who posted a positive possession rating: Jankowski, Giordano, and Bennett.
- Jankowski led the way with a CF% of 53.9%, in addition to accounting for 2 iHDCF
- Valimaki, in addition to his two minor penalties, posted the worst CF% on the team at 34.8%
- Jankowski and Dube were both on the ice for 3 HDCF and 0 HDCA at 5v5
- Nic Petan dominated in terms of CF%, posting a game high 81.2%
- The Jets only had four players below a 50% CF%: Ben Chiarot, Kyle Connor, Patrik Laine, and Bryan Little
- Little being the worst offender, posing a game low 21.1% in 11:55 of 5v5 ice time
- Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey were on the ice for 5 HDCF at 5v5
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Czarnik – Ryan – Neal
Dube – Jankowski – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson
Ehlers – Scheifele – Wheeler
Connor – Little – Laine
Copp – Lowry – Tanev
Petan – Roslovic – Perreault
Morrissey – Trouba
Chiarot – Byfuglien
Morrow – Myers
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
The quick goal on Rittich could have been bad news. Being down early against a team like the Jets is often a recipe for disaster, but the Flames were not shaken. They were by far the better team in the first and they had five goals to show for it.
It’s one thing to get scoring in the first period—a dire need for the Flames—but it’s another to score 10 goals in two straight first periods. Doing so against Vegas was a treat, but doing it against the Jets, one of the best teams in the league, was pure euphoria.
It’s always good to get ahead early, but doing so by such a large margin after giving up the first goal? That’s resilience. The Flames outworked the Jets and were rewarded. Unfazed by being down a goal, they stuck to their game plan and it paid off.
Of course, first period leads won’t always come easily, as the Flames can attest to. However, stringing together a couple of games where they don’t have to go into the first intermission talking about how they are still in the game—that has to good for the locker room.
Seeing Rittich mad with the untimely poke from Byfuglien and immediately being able to joke about it with Rasmus Andersson on the bench, that’s just another reason to love him. He’s been a breath of fresh air with his immensely happy celebrations, and now he’s angry and isn’t gonna take any crap from anyone. Big Save Dave is so precious.
The Jets were easily of the toughest opponents for the Flames thus far, and the Flames did an excellent job. Being up with a big lead against such a talented team can often be dangerous—make a list of teams that can mount a multi-goal comeback and the Jets are on that list 100% of the time.
All in all, it was a great showing from the home team. It’s genuinely exciting to watch the Flames.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: Playing with a big lead against the Jets, the Flames were able to keep one of the most potent offences in the league at bay.
Bad: There was a bit of penalty trouble for the Flames, which is not good when facing the Jets’ power play. Bennett and Valimaki each had a couple of trips to the box.
Beautiful: Copy. Paste. First period magic.
Opponent: Vegas Golden Knights
Standings: 6th in the Pacific
Season Series: 1-0-0
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