The Calgary Flames continued their three game home-stand on Wednesday night, as they hosted the New York Islanders; a clash between divisional leaders. After recording back-to-back wins, the Flames were looking to extend their winning streak and lead atop the Western Conference. Mike Smith made his fourth consecutive start for the Flames, going 2-0-1 over his previous three games.
The Flames came out to one of their best starts in a longtime. It would only take five minutes for the team to strike, as a beautiful saucer pass from Michael Frolik would give Mikael Backlund his 15th of the season (cue the Allan Walsh tweet). Later in the period, Travis Hamonic would score his first goal against his former team, extending the Flames’ lead to two heading into the second period.
New York would be limited in their offensive chances, as the Flames held the team to only seven shots through two periods. Unfortunately, one of those shots would find the back of the net off the stick of Casey Cizikas. The Flames head a one goal lead one entering the final frame.
In the third period, poor defensive communication from the Flames resulted in Anders Lee being wide-open in front of the net. The game was tied at two just over a minute into the third; the Islanders just breaking the 10 shot mark. Of course, the Flames would not allow the visiting team to overshadow them in the third period. Goals 28 seconds apart from Austin Czarnik (in his third straight game) and Johnny Gaudreau (his 30th of the season) to extend the lead back to two.
The Islanders would have their chances down the stretch, but Smith made some important saves to keep the Flames lead intact. There were some fireworks at the end of the game, but the Flames didn’t look back and earned their third straight victory; 4-2, final score.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Czarnik led all players with a 81.3 CF%
- Hamonic had a game-high nine individual CF
- Gaudreau had five individual scoring chances for
New York Islanders
- Valtteri Filppula and Matt Martin were the only two Islanders above water at 54.6 and 52.2 CF%, respectively
- Lee had a game-low 25.0 CF%
- The Islanders had six total high-danger CF, three of which were generated by Cizikas
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Tkachuk
Frolik – Backlund – Lindholm
Bennett – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
New York Islanders
Lee – Nelson – Eberle
Kuhnhackl – Barzal – Bailey
Beauvillier – Filppula – Komarov
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
Leddy – Boychuk
Pelech – Pulock
Toews – Mayfield
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
Quite the atmosphere for a cross-conference match-up. The Flames came out with easily their best effort in recent memory. From the get-go, the Flames looked much more determined and focused than in previous contests. That effort translated into an early lead, and although the game was eventually tied, they looked like the better team all game long.
Even though the Islanders had seven shots through two periods, I genuinely think that all of them were threatening. Sure, you can look at Smith’s numbers and be disappointed, but he made saves when he needed to and got the victory. No need to kick a guy when he is on a strong streak.
The top line finally got some of their mojo back last night after being highly criticized over the past few contests. They haven’t looked overly impressive, but they were a big reason behind a lot of the offensive pressure. It is interesting to see so much vitriol directed towards the top line after a few bad games. Players go through slumps, but what they have done all season should make up for a few bad games. No need to worry.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Gaudreau broke a nine game goal-less drought, scoring his 30th goal in the process. He also generated seven shots on net; finally looks to have gotten out of his mini slump.
Bad: Can we talk about the Backlund penalty sequence at the end of the game? The inconsistency in officiating is getting out of hand.
Beautiful: Czarnik scored in his third straight game, giving him five on the season, but also giving the Flames the game winning goal. Would be tough to justify having him in the press box anymore moving forward.
Opponent: Anaheim Ducks
Standings: 6th in the Pacific
Season Series: 0-0-0
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images