It was a night of firsts for the Calgary Flames, looking to extend their winning streak last night against the Nashville Predators. The Flames and Predators sat first in their respective divisions heading into the game, and the the outcome would determine which team would claim top spot in the Western Conference.
Mike Smith started again for the Flames and after a terrible start to the season, he has turned his game around over the last few weeks. For the Predators, backup goaltender Juuse Saros tended the pipes.
The Flames opened the scoring just over a minute into the first period. On a great feed from Elias Lindholm, Oliver Kylington hammered a one-timer behind Saros for his first career NHL goal. The Predators would tie the game in the last minute of the period on a not great deflection by Colton Sissions. The two teams fired just 11 combined shots on goal through 20.
The only team to strike in the second period was the Flames. Sean Monahan buried his team-leading 18th goal of the year on a slick backhander in-tight that went top shelf on Saros.
The Predators pushed back hard in the third period, and Craig Smith scored the equalizer just 54 seconds into the final frame. That was as close as the Predators would get to winning this one though, as the Flames scored two straight goals from a pair of Stockton graduates in Garnet Hathaway and Alan Quine to blow the game open. Lindholm would add an empty netter to seal the deal, giving the Flames their fifth straight win and vault them into first place in the West.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Dalton Prout led the Flames with a whopping 72.7% CF, with 85.7% OZS.
- The new pairing of TJ Brodie and Rasmus Andersson were the worst Corsi players on the team, posting 44.3% and 44.8% CF respectively.
- James Neal was on the ice for a team-high 6 HDCF.
- Just five Predators skaters finished above 50% CF, Roman Josi leading the way at 58.1%.
- Mattias Ekholm was the worst Predator Corsi wise at 37.5%.
- Zac Rinaldo led the Predators with 100% HDCF (3-0).
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Ryan – Bennett
Mangiapane – Jankowski – Neal
Czarnik – Quine – Hathaway
Hanifin – Hamonic
Brodie – Andersson
Kylington – Prout
Hartman – Johansen – Fiala
Tolvanen – Jarnkrok – Smith
Salomaki – Sissons – Watson
Gaudreau – Bonino – Grimaldi
Josi – Ellis
Hamhuis – Ekholm
Irwin – Weber
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
Does this mean the Flames are good?
As a fan of the Flames, it is extremely difficult to put into perspective what it means to see the Flames at the top of the Western Conference. Through years of mediocrity, the time appears to be now for the Flames.
What is most impressive about last night’s win is that they did it without multiple key pieces in their lineup. Yes the same can be said for the Predators, but the Flames won with their depth last night. Kylington, Quine, Hathaway, the list really can go on for the star performances from last night. This tweet from @bookofloob pretty much sums up the general feelings around last night, please mind his French:
Tons of impressive performances from last night, with the majority of them being Stockton products. Andersson, Kylington, and Mangiapane look like they are here to stay; and rightfully so. The blueline looks absolutely plugged at the moment, and honestly it appears as if Valimaki might be the odd man out at this point in time.
James Neal also had a fantastic game I thought. He may not have tallied a point, but you can easily sense he is on the verge of breaking through. Once the goals start finding their way into the back of the net, they may not stop.
Smith also had an honorable performance. Yes he once again let in a softie, for which we were critical, but at the same time he was able to make those key stops after the tiny lapse in judgement. Six straight wins for Smith is exactly what he needed, and for sure has a bit of his confidence back. It is easy to blame him for the early season struggles, but now the team has two solid netminders they can easily turn to without second guessing.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: A fifth straight win that put the Flames into first place in the Pacific Division, first place in the Western Conference, and third place overall in the NHL.
Bad: As well as Smith has rebounded, it’s still rare for him to get through a game without letting in a soft goal. Goaltending is still an issue for the Flames and hopefully now that Smith is rolling a bit, he can work on fine tuning his game.
Beautiful: Not only Kylington’s first NHL goal, but the raw celly afterwards. He was clearly stoked to score and hopefully it was just one of many in the NHL for him.
Opponent: Edmonton Oilers
Standings: 5th in Pacific
Season Series: 1-0-0