After losing Mikael Backlund to injury and both Ryan Lomberg and Mark Giordano to suspensions in the last game against the Minnesota Wild, the Calgary Flames looked for both revenge and a win in Minnesota yesterday afternoon.
Setting the stage for what had the makings of a nasty grudge match, the Flames dressed Dalton Prout to inject some muscle into the lineup. Not a smart move as Prout isn’t very good at ice hockey, but it is what it is.
Scores were settled early. The first period featured three fights, the first one between Matthew Tkachuk and Matt Dumba just 40 seconds into the game. After the game, Tkachuk explained what his fight was for:
Tkachuk on Dumba fight: "(Backlund's) my center. (Dumba’s) a tough guy over there, a great defenseman, he’s had a great year, but I didn’t like the hit, I don’t think anybody did, that’s my center, not going to let anybody do that to him."#mnwild #flames
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) December 15, 2018
The second fight was between Mark Giordano and Matt Hendricks with around two minutes left in the period, and just 24 seconds later, Sam Bennett dropped the gloves with Ryan Suter.
The first period also mixed in a a Flames goal by Giordano shorthanded to open the scoring. He became the first Flames defensemen to score shorthanded goals in consecutive games. David Rittich was solid in the Flames crease stopping 12 Wild shots in the opening frame.
The second period was much quieter. True to the Minnesota way, the Wild did their best to keep the game as boring as possible, not wanting to engage in a track meet against the Flames. The Wild would even the game off a goal from Jordan Greenway and the second period ended tied at one goal apiece.
As they’ve done so many times, the Flames outscored the Wild in the third. Tkachuk scored the game winner around halfway through the period, and the Flames hung on for another win. They still sit first in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Tkachuk led the Flames with 64.3% CF.
- He was followed closely by Alan Quine and Sam Bennett who both registered 60.0% CF.
- The worst Corsi player on the team was Derek Ryan who posted a brutal 20.0% CF.
- Jared Spurgeon led the Wild with 61.3% CF.
- The worst Wild player Corsi wise was Dumba at 33.3%, but he played just 5:37 in the game.
- Nino Niederreiter finished with 83.3% HDCF (5-1). He was a very dangerous player the Wild yesterday afternoon.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Ryan – Bennett
Mangiapane – Jankowski – Neal
rotating – Quine – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
Greenway – Staal – Granlund
Parise – Coyle – Niederreiter
Foligno – Eriksson Ek – Kunin
Fehr – Hendricks – Brown
Suter – Dumba
Brodin – Spurgeon
Seeler – Pateryn
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
It was a scrappy win, but a win nonetheless. I’m not a fan of settling scores via fights, but I hated the Dumba hit on Backlund and I didn’t think Giordano deserved a two game suspension for his borderline shin-on-shin hit either. So this time, it was fine to see the Flames get fiery and get some revenge. On the other hand, it was completely useless to dress Prout. The guy isn’t good at hockey, period. He played 3:48 in the entire game. What is the point of that? It was a very close match in which the Flames could have used the speed of Austin Czarnik to break through the swamp the Wild create in the neutral zone. Playing Prout for that much time makes no sense and I don’t understand why Bill Peters insists on dressing him in these games. Tkachuk, Bennett, Garnet Hathaway, Giordano, and Travis Hamonic can more than handle their own. You don’t need Prout in the lineup.
James Neal had a glorious opportunity to score last night but rang the puck off the post. The net was wide open and yes, he was at a bit of an awkward angle, but if that doesn’t sum up Neal’s season so far, I don’t know what does. I didn’t feel bad for the guy but he’s really snakebitten and he deserves at least a few more goals than he has. I wonder if he’ll ever get out of this slump because it doesn’t look like the Hockey Gods are on his side.
After six strong games from Andrew Mangiapane, he probably had one of his worst professional games yesterday. It was tough to see as this morning he was sent down to Stockton. I really like Mangiapane as a player and thought he deserved to stay in the NHL but he’ll get another chance. I’m rooting for him to make an impact and maybe that won’t come this year, but hopefully it will down the road.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: Tkachuk’s game winner was a great shot and came at the perfect time. He’s a clutch player.
Bad: Once again, the Flames were unable to capitalize on any of their three powerplay opportunities.
Beautiful: Everything about Rittich is beautiful. He got the win, made a bunch of great saves, and looked like an NHL goalie yet again.
Opponent: St. Louis Blues
Standings: 6th in the Central
Season Series: 0-1-0