The Calgary Flames were finally back in action on Wednesday evening, after a much needed two day break. The Flames entered last night’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres with a five game winning streak that they were looking to extend to a season-high six games. David Rittich would return to the crease, even after Mike Smith’s victory over the Coyotes, while the Sabres would turn to backup Linus Ullmark.
Both teams got off to decent starts, not giving the other much ice to work with. The Flames would register 13 shots, while the Sabres weren’t too far behind with 11 of their own. The visiting team had the better opportunities, with two wide open chances for Jack Eichel not being converted, but the Flames would leave the period with the only marker. With a late power play opportunity, the Flames re-entered the zone and with less than a second left on the clock, Johnny Gaudreau potted a generous rebound to put the team up 1-0.
The Flames would continue the pressure in the second period, with Gaudreau once again leading the charge in the offensive zone. Although the Flames initially had the majority of chances, it was the Sabres that would draw the next blood. A sleek outlet pass to Evan Rodrigues, combined with a smart deke on a breakway would tie the game at one. Buffalo would continue to pour it on the Flames, but luckily for the Flames, the teams stayed tied at one entering the final frame.
Fortunately, the fireworks came in the third period, as they usually do in Calgary. The Flames would take the lead off a beautiful tic-tac-toe powerplay goal from Matthew Tkachuk, but that lead would be surrendered shortly thereafter. A Rasmus Dahlin point shot would elude Rittich high glove after being deflected off a Flames stick. The damage would continue for the Flames, as an Elias Lindholm giveaway would end up right on the stick of Jake McCabe who would also put a point shot past a screened Rittich. The Flames’ sloppy mistakes cost them.
Luckily, the goals did not stop there. Less than a minute after McCabe’s goal, Noah Hanifin got his fourth of the season to tie the game back up at three. Although the Flames dominated the game from there, they simply couldn’t get the additional marker in regulation. For the second time in two meetings, the Flames and Sabres were headed to overtime.
In the extra frame, the Flames simply were unable to generate substantial offensive zone pressure at all. The Sabres would take advantage of their extended possession as Eichel would finally capitalize on one of his chances. The goal would end the game, and the Flames’ win streak.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- The Flames only had two players who posted negative possession ratings: Garnet Hathaway and Hanifin
- Austin Czarnik, who replaced James Neal in the lineup, posted a game high CF% at 76.9%
- Czarnik’s linemates Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett were close behind with 75.0% and 64.7% respectively
- The Flames only generated one HDCF at 5v5
- Rasmus Ristolainen led his team in CF% with a 60.0%, the only positive rating on his team
- McCabe posted a game low CF% of 30.8%
- Conor Sheary and Casey Mittelstadt were on the ice for 4 HDCF and 0 HDCA
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Andersson
Kylington – Prout
Skinner – Eichel – Reinhart
Sheary – Mittelstadt – Thompson
Sobotka – Rodrigues – Pominville
Okposo – Larsson – Girgensons
Dahlin – Bogosian
Pilut – Ristolainen
Scandella – McCabe
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
The Sabres bounced back well from an embarrassing defeat to the Oilers earlier in the week. That being said, last night was Ullmark’s show. When there was any moment where the Sabres game fell off a bit, Ullmark was there to keep his team in the game. 30 saves on 33 shots made all the difference for his team.
Although the Flames may have been applying the majority of the pressure all game, they simply did not play their best game. Rittich was not himself in net, with the second goal normally being a routine save. Although they had their chances, they simply couldn’t get that lead back again.
Luckily, the Flames still picked up a much needed point to keep their lead atop the Western Conference.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful/Ugly
Good: With a goal and an assist, Gaudreau now has 71 points on the season through 48 games. He is 13 points away from his career high and inching closer to Nikita Kucherov‘s league leading number.
Bad: Lindholm’s rare turnover was costly and unexpected from the Selke calibre forward.
Ugly: Dahlin’s third period goal was the bigger blunder by Rittich. One that he should have been able to save, but all the more sour watching the replays.
Opponent: Detroit Red Wings
Standings: 6th in Atlantic
Season Series: 1-0-0
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images