The Calgary Flames wrapped up their four-game road trip with a spirited battle against the Chicago Blackhawks. With the win, the Flames add to their lead in the tightening Pacific Division.
Less than four minutes into the game, first-star-of-the-week Johnny Gaudreau picked up the loose puck and shot it into a wide open net to put the Flames up by one. That would be Gaudreau’s 25th goal of the season; he’s just five goals shy of his career-high.
On the opposite end of the first period—with less than four minutes remaining—Patrick Kane tied the game at one apiece with a sharp-angle backhand. The Flames held an edge in shots at the end of the period, peppering Collin Delia with sixteen shots; David Rittich saw twelve shots against himself.
The Blackhawks got their first lead of the game in the second period when Kane found Alex DeBrincat for a one-timer that Rittich had no chance on. Shortly after Chicago’s goal, Noah Hanifin took a tripping penalty, followed by Dylan Strome who did the same. In the short stint of four-on-four play, Chicago nearly added to their lead but Rittich was sharp and prevented any further damage.
The Flames would get their chances to tie the game on a couple of power play opportunities. Their first full two-minute power play was courtesy of Strome’s second tripping penalty of the night. The Flames got a couple of shots off but failed to find the back of the net.
As the second period neared its end, Erik Gustafsson took a holding the stick penalty. The Flames’ first power play went to work and with some pretty passes, the puck landed on Sean Monahan‘s stick and no mistakes were made on the shot. The Flames tied the game at two after two periods.
Entering the final frame, Gaudreau found himself on a breakaway less than minute in. Delia looked to make the initial save, but the puck trickled past him right into the back of the net. That would be Gaudreau’s 26th goal of the season; he’s just four goals shy of his career-high.
Despite pressure from the Blackhawks looking to tie the game, the Flames controlled large parts of the third but were unable to score any more goals against Delia. Late in the third with Chicago’s net empty and the Flames on a penalty kill, Garnet Hathaway sealed the win with a shorthanded goal.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Mark Giordano had a game-high eight iCF (six were on net)
- Elias Lindholm led both teams with a whopping 77.4 CF%
- Derek Ryan was hemmed in his zone, posting a game-low 21.7 CF%
- Monahan had seven shots, all seven were scoring chances, six were high-danger
- Four Blackhawks had five iCF: DeBrincat, Gustafsson, Brent Seabrook, and Duncan Keith
- Jonathan Toews was largely outplayed, ending his night at 31.4 CF%
- Chris Kunitz was one of three Blackhawks to post over 70 CF%, DeBrincat and David Kampf were the other two
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Frolik – Jankowski – Neal
Hathaway – Ryan – Czarnik
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
Saad – Toews – Kahun
Anisimov – Strome – Kane
DeBrincat – Kampf – Perlini
Caggiula – Kruger – Kunitz
Keith – Seabrook
Davidson – Gustafsson
Dahlstrom – Murphy
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
The Flames came to the United Center looking to sweep the season series against the Blackhawks for the second year in a row, and they sure did what they sought out to do. While the game was fairly even, or perhaps even tilted in Chicago’s favour for the first two periods, the Flames came out blistering in the third and that was a big factor in their win yesterday.
That late second period power play goal was probably the difference maker in the game. It allowed the Flames to go into the third with the game tied, and as demonstrated through much of the season, they are more than comfortable being in such a situation heading into the final twenty minutes of any game.
If it wasn’t for Delia, there was good reason to think the Flames could have easily opened up the game in the third period with how much pressure they were able to sustain. The cherry on top was that it wasn’t just offensive zone pressure, but rather dominance. The Flames had a plethora of Grade-A chances to add to their lead but it bears repeating: Delia kept the Blackhawks in the game.
Heading back home picking up six out of a possible eight points on a road trip is huge for the Flames. With all due respect for their opponents, that might have been the team’s expectations, but those points have become all the more valuable as the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks are in hot pursuit of the Flames.
The Flames need to continue picking up points against weaker opponents to keep their Pacific lead and last night was no exception. They now sit second overall in the league, which is not a bad place to be in January at all.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: The third period contained many good chances that flustered the Chicago defence quite often. It’s hard for a trailing team to mount a comeback when they spend much of a period in their own zone.
Bad: With a third period like the one they had, the Flames really should have been able to close the game out much sooner than they did. Sometimes you run into a hot goalie though, which was the case last night.
Beautiful: Gaudreau continues to amaze, adding two more goals into his already stellar goal-scoring numbers.
Opponent: Colorado Avalanche
Standings: 3rd in Central
Season Series: 2-0-0
Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images