The Calgary Flames returned back to the Saddledome to face the Minnesota Wild. After posting a 9-6 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flames were looking to tighten up their defence while continuing to ride their offensive breakout.
The Flames started the period looking much better than the visitors, but both goaltenders were sharp right from the get go. The first period ended in at zeroes a piece, which included a post hit from each team, not to mention a controversial offside call that cost the Flames a goal.
Johnny Gaudreau had the puck on a string as he danced around in the offensive zone. As he straddled the blue line, what originally looked like an onside play that led to an Elias Lindholm goal was challenged by the Wild. The goal was overturned but the Flames were still buzzing.
— Sportsnet 960 (@Sportsnet960) December 7, 2018
It didn’t take long in the second period for Gaudreau to find Lindholm again. This time, with no offsides or missed shots. Pressure from Mark Giordano and Gaudreau inside the Flames’ zone forced a turnover, and Gaudreau and Lindholm swiftly took off on a two-on-one. The rest of the period was less eventful, as both Alex Stalock and Mike Smith were sharp.
Less than two minutes into the third, Gaudreau had the puck alone in the offensive zone. Waiting for his teammates to catch up, he opted to pass for to a wide open Lindholm, who had all the time in the world to score his second of the night.
The game got a bit scrappy in the third, starting with a bad tripping penalty from Giordano on the opposing captian Mikko Koivu. Heated words were exchanged but nothing more seemed to amount from it.
However, late into the third period when the Flames’ victory was secured, Matt Dumba
blindsided Mikael Backlund, leading to an injury of the Flames’ forward. In the ensuing chaos, Ryan Lomberg came off the bench (on a line change) and immediately pursued Dumba.
A unnecessary late hit led to a definite injury for Backlund and a one-game suspension for Lomberg for instigating. In the coming days more will be revealed on the status of Backlund.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Andrew Mangiapane posted a game-high 77.8% CF, with three individual scoring chances
- Derek Ryan finished the game with 0.0% CF. Zero shot attempts for, ten against
- Matthew Tkachuk and Backlund were not their usual selves. They posted 29.4% and 31.6% CF, respectively
- Eric Fehr and J.T. Brown each had 92.3% CF, and they accomplished that in 9:22 and 10:28 of ice-time
- The Wild’s top line of Jason Zucker, Eric Staal, and Mikael Granlund were underwater, with 35.7%, 37.0%, and 38.5% CF, respectively
- Jared Spurgeon had a great game, posting a 54.8% CF, with 5 individual CF
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Mangiapane – Jankowski – Neal
Lomberg – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
Columbus Blue Jackets
Zucker – Staal – Granlund
Parise – Koivu – Coyle
Greenway – Eriksson Ek – Niederreiter
Foligno – Fehr – Hendricks
Suter – Spurgeon
Brodin – Dumba
Seeler – Pateryn
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
It was unfortunate to see a goal get called off because of the puck being literally millimetres offside, but the rules are the rules, and the game will continue to be played as such. The whole sequence was highlight reel worthy, and mostly because of how effortlessly Gaudreau handled the puck.
However, what was more telling was how the Flames responded. They did change their attitude after the overturned goal, and continued to play the Flames’ brand of hockey. Maybe it was karma or maybe it was all a coincidence, but for the two Flames’ goals to be scored by Lindholm and assisted by Gaudreau (and Giordano), just really shows how successful that top-line has been this season. Hopefully it’ll continue for the next several seasons.
Friendly reminder: Elias Lindholm is signed for the next six seasons for less than $5M per season..
— The Win Column (@wincolumnCGY) December 7, 2018
The game didn’t end on a high note at all, and while it is understandable that the Wild were frustrated with losing, the game shouldn’t have devolved to the point of a dirty play. It particularly sucks that Backlund was on the receiving end, and hopefully he’ll recover quickly, but the next stretch of games will be telling for the Flames.
It’s going to be an extended stretch missing a core player of their offence, but they definitely have the forward depth to be alright. Perhaps one or two players will step up with the opportunity. The combination of Backlund’s injury and Lomberg’s suspension will merit a Stockton recall. Maybe Dube’s on his way back to Calgary already. We’ll see what the Flames opt for soon enough.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: Smith started the game looking highly uncomfortable, seemingly making reactionary saves. As the game progressed, he settled down and was better with this positioning and puck tracking. Without a doubt, he earned that shutout.
Bad: The sequence ending the game was just plain weird. Sean Monahan could have scored on the empty net but elected to drop pass to Noah Hanifin. Maybe if Monahan had just shot the puck, the whole injury to Backlund could have been avoided.
Beautiful: Lindholm, Gaudreau, Giordano. Two goals, two primary assists, two secondary assists.
Opponent: Nashville Predators
Standings: 1st in Central
Season Series: 1-1-0