The Friday night game between the Calgary Flames and the Florida Panthers got off to a slow start for the home team, while the visitors were hungry for redemption after blowing three separate leads to lose in the shootout against the Edmonton Oilers the night before.
The Flames looked uncomfortable and it wasn’t look before the Panthers got off to the early lead. A fanned pass from Noah Hanifin behind his own net landed right on Mike Hoffman‘s stick and he promptly shot it past David Rittich. The Panthers held a 10-4 edge on shots heading into the first intermission, and would start the second on the power play.
Twenty seconds into the second period, the Panthers converted on said power play. Jonathan Huberdeau picked up a perfect pass from Keith Yandle and found himself on a partial breakaway, in which Huberdeau neatly tucked the puck in through Rittich’s five hole.
Being down 2-0 early in the second was the wake up call for the Flames, as from that point onward they completely reversed the flow of the game, and were relentless on the puck. Florida had little to no response against the Flames, and the game would be tied at 2-2 at the end of the second.
Calgary’s first goal started with a pass from Oliver Kylington to Mikael Backlund, who brought the puck into the offensive zone. Showing great patience, he waited until Michael Frolik got in front of the net before taking a shot. Frolik would tip the shot right past Roberto Luongo to pull the Flames within one.
Less than five minutes later, Frolik gathered the puck, skated into the zone himself and as Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk crashed the net, Frolik instead found a trailing Mark Giordano, who was wide open for a crossbar-and-in goal. As the second period waned, no further scoring occurred but it was clear which team had momentum on its side.
Heading into the third period, the Flames continued their pressure and looked hungry to gain their first lead of the night. The 3M line was buzzing all night long and just over eight minutes into the final frame, they struck again.
With the Flames sustaining pressure in the offensive zone, the Panthers failed the clear the puck. Frolik picked it and swung it towards the net, but it landed perfectly on Tkachuk’s stick and he made his 21st goal of the season look easy. Whether Frolik’s pass was intentional or not, it went exactly where it needed to, and the Panthers blew yet another lead in their back-to-back games in Alberta.
The Flames would go on the power play late in the third, where Sean Monahan would score into the Panthers’ empty net to increase the Flames’ lead. For the third game in a row, the Flames had a 4-2 lead in the dying moments of a game, and for the third time a row, their opponent would score in the final minute to make things interesting.
Rittich had the puck pressed between the post and his skate, but Evgeni Dadonov would take a swing at it and knock it loose right into the net with 20 seconds remaining. However, the Panthers ran out of time and were unable to tie the game up before the end of regulation. The Flames emerged victorious and now have a three-point lead against the second-place San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Giordano was the best player on the ice, period. He had a game-high 10 individual CF and game-high 86.7 CF%
- Tkachuk was a threat to score all night, finishing with a game-high four individual high-danger CF
- Andrew Mangiapane and Austin Czarnik both had a team-low 40.0 CF% in limited ice-time
- Only Denis Malgin, Henrik Borgström , and Hoffman had a positive CF%
- Troy Brouwer had an abysmal night, ending the game with 10.0 CF%
- Not a single Panther had multiple individual high-danger CF, four players had one each
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Mangiapane – Ryan – Czarnik
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
Huberdeau – Barkov – Malgin
Hoffman – McCann – Dadonov
Vatrano – Borgstrom – Brouwer
Hawryluk – Lammikko – Sceviour
Yandle – Ekblad
Matheson – Pysyk
Kiselevich – Weegar
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
The Flames once again started off slowly, and were probably lucky they faced a tired opponent. The Panthers could have done a lot more damage in the first period had they been fresher against the same lethargic Flames. Thankfully the Flames turned on the jets early in the second instead of waiting for the third period.
The Flames are a genuinely good team. There is little reason for them to start out of the gates so slowly so often, but yet here they are. This team absolutely touts the “it isn’t over ’til it’s over” mantra, but they really could turn it into “it was over for the opponent even before it started.”
This isn’t preaching arrogance, I just think that if the Flames come out and start games the same way the end them, a lot of opponents would crumble and the Flames would have easier times gaining victories.
The season’s a few games past the half way mark now, there’s little doubt that these Flames are real, but there’s a strong desire to be the best they can be, and they just aren’t there yet.
Truth be told, they thoroughly outplayed the Panthers in the second and third periods, but had to dig themselves out of a hole they shouldn’t have been in to begin with. I’d argue that this was one of their most dominant games so far this season, had it not been tarnished with a lacklustre first period.
There’s a lot of work left, and I think the best is yet to come.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: The Flames overcame adversity, just as they’ve done all season long whenever they’ve encountered it.
Bad: The first period start was a lethargic show of “meh.”
Beautiful: This is tied between Giordano having himself a game, dominating on the ice, and Frolik having himself a game, dominating on the ice.
Opponent: Arizona Coyotes
Standings: 7th in Pacific
Season Series: 1-0-0
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images