The Calgary Flames looked to wrap up their four-game road trip on a high note during Saturday’s matinee game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Going 0-1-2 so far on the trip, ending with a win would give the Flames much needed relief heading back to Calgary.
It was a high scoring tilt between two of the league’s top teams. Andrew Mangiapane opened up the scoring by deflecting the puck in with his skate, that would be his second goal in four games.
The Penguins evened up the score before the period was over. A questionable penalty was given to Sam Bennett, and despite the Penguins’ power play expiring, Matthew Tkachuk (serving Bennett’s penalty) wasn’t able to get back into the play before Jake Guentzel cleanly tipped in Justin Schultz‘s shot from the top of the circle, giving Mike Smith no chance on making the save. Schultz would log over 17 minutes and one assist in his return from injury; his first game since October 13, 2018.
In the second period, the flood gates opened, mostly in favour of the Flames. Less than two minutes into the second frame, Michael Frolik scored his first goal in over a month, tucking in a rebound that Matt Murray couldn’t corral.
About 90 seconds later, Austin Czarnik put the Flames up 3-1. Good neutral zone awareness from Derek Ryan caused a turnover, and Czarnik scored in transition. Yesterday was Czarnik’s first game in a month after being a healthy scratch since January 11.
The Penguins’ power play would strike again, this time before it expired. The Penguins closed in on the Flames, and with a lot of passing and no clean shots, the puck fortuitously landed right on the stick of Sidney Crosby, who scored a top-shelf tight angle goal in a way only Crosby could.
Before the period was over, the Flames added another two goals to bring the score to 5-2. With the Flames controlling the puck, Travis Hamonic activated on the play and his wrist shot found its way past Murray.
Shortly after, the Flames were on the power play. While their first unit failed to get any good opportunities, the second unit was able to find each other and dance around in the offensive zone. Bennett kept the puck in at the blue line before passing it off to Rasmus Andersson. A few passes later to Mikael Backlund and Ryan, the puck ended up back on Bennett’s stick as he tapped in the puck on an empty net.
The third period started with a goaltender change for Pittsburgh, Casey DeSmith coming in relief for Murray. As expected, one team tried to shut things down while the other pushed back. On two straight power plays, the Penguins converted on two straight goals from Evgeni Malkin
As the game dwindled down, the Penguins were relentless; being as dangerous as ever with their own net empty. However, they would not be able to tie up the game, and the Flames hung on for the 5-4 win.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Mangiapane led the Flames with a 66.7 CF%
- Ryan had a game, leading the Flames with three individual HDCF
- Frolik had a game-high nine individual CF
- Bennett had a weak outing, posting a game-low 25 CF%
- Teddy Blueger had a game-high 72.2 CF%
- Three Penguins had at least 6 individual CF: Brian Dumoulin (8), Crosby (7), and Phil Kessel (6)
- Guentzel posted a team-low 43.2 CF%
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
Guentzel – Crosby – Rust
Kessel – Malkin – Bjugstad
Blueger – McCann – Hornqvist
Aston-Reese – Cullen – Wilson
Dumoulin – Letang
Johnson – Schultz
Pettersson – Ruhwedel
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
The Flames will probably be a lot looser heading back to Calgary to host the Coyotes now that they snapped out of their losing streak. It’s too early to tell if they’re out of their slump, but things are at least trending in the right direction.
The Flames were the better team that played a game that was much closer than it should have been. Largely in part due to some shoddy refereeing, the Penguins scored undeserved goals, and gained undeserved momentum, simple as that.
Despite the inconsistent refereeing, the Flames hung on for the win, which has to feel good for them as they wrap up the road trip. Not all games are going to be called equal, but at least it didn’t end up costing the Flames points at the end of the day.
Earning four out of a possible eight points while being on said slump isn’t too bad, all things considered. The Flames played well against the Penguins, got timely goals, and were able to close out the game with a win. It’s easy to feel nervous amid a slump with playoff seeding implications at stake, but the Flames are still the same Flames that have led the division (and conference) for much of the season.
What will be telling for the Flames, though, would be what happens with their goaltending and what they do as the trade deadline approaches. They’re buyers, but will acquisitions be at the right price?
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Czarnik getting a goal on his first game back. It’s hard not to root for Czarnik, who’s been good for the Flames despite the limited opportunities.
Bad: The penalty kill just wasn’t able to do their job. Even with bad calls against, shutting down the Penguins’ power play would have been nice.
Beautiful: Depth scoring is coming through. Five goals in which the top line only earned a total of two assists? That’ll come in handy if other players continue to find the back of the net.
Opponent: Arizona Coyotes
Standings: 5th in the Pacific
Season Series: 2-0-0
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images