The Calgary Flames kicked off a three game Eastern conference road trip. The short roadie started yesterday in Ottawa, and will see them visit New York and New Jersey to face the Islanders and the Devils before returning back to Calgary for Jarome Iginla‘s big night. The Flames looked to extend their current four game win streak against a Senators team that was full of fresh faces, due to their better players being already traded or awaiting a trade pending the NHL Trade Deadline. Calgary looked to David Rittich (20-5-5) in net for his first start since February 12th.

The Flames came out flying with Mikael Backlund notching his 16th goal of the season at just the 4:07 mark of the first. They continued their dominant play, looking to extend their lead. A second Flames goal by Matthew Tkachuk was called back due to goaltender interference. With Craig Anderson attempting to freeze the puck on a rebound, Tkachuk swooped in and poked a goal in from under Anderson’s glove. After a coach’s challenge and subsequent review the referees would overturn the call on the ice, and rob older brother Matthew of the first goal in the Tkachuk-vs-Tkachuk era.

In the closing minutes of the first period and leading into the second, the Senators seemed to find a little bit of life. Calgary however turned the tides once again, and carried the play for a large portion of the second period. Without being able to capitalize on any of their chances, the Flames allowed the Senators to stick around. At 15:38 of the middle period, Brady Tkachuk would get the actual first “Battle of the Tkachuks” goal. With the Flames defencemen caught on a bad pinch and a bad change, Tkachuk snapped up a loose puck and had a clean breakaway on Rittich, slipping a beautiful backhand under the netminder’s left pad.

The rest of the second would pass without much to speak of, but Calgary maintained the pace of play; there was little doubt that they were the better team. As the second was wrapping up, a Garnet Hathaway tripping penalty on Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan would result in a power play the would book end the second and third periods; however, the Flames’ penalty kill got the job done and prevented Ottawa from getting the lead.

In the third period, there was some nice back and forth action, but the Flames carried the play overall while out-shooting the Senators 12-5 in the period and 35-23 overall. On a Senators power play, The teams exchanged a few high-danger chances and introduced the puck to the old post(s) three times (2 for Ottawa and 1 for Calgary).

One of the posts hit by Ottawa was on their power play, in which they thought they took the lead on the ensuing rebound. However; in an eerily similar situation as Calgary’s disallowed goal, the Senators somehow perfectly mimicked the play, getting their goal disallowed for goaltender interference as well.

Under a minute left to play in the third, neither team looked like they wanted to settle for extra time. The Senators hit the post right before the play turned to the other direction. Some pretty passing by the Flames saw the puck land right on “Mr. Clutch” Austin Czarnik‘s stick, and he potted a beautiful goal in what would end up being the game winning goal at the 19:19 mark of the third period. Give some credit to Michael Frolik for feeding Czarnik from the half boards, as he spotted Czarnik coming in hot, putting himself into perfect position to dish out a dirty backhand goal that Anderson had little chance at saving.

Rittich was fantastic in his return to the Flames net, finishing the game with a .957 SV%. The win was his 21st of the season, which ties him for 11th overall in the league. With the victory, Calgary moves three points clear of San Jose once again, with a game in hand to boot.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations5v5SVA 5v5
CF61.9%58.0%61.6%
SCF65.3%65.8%70.0%
HDCF55.0%58.8%64.2%

5v5 Player Stats

Calgary Flames
Ottawa Senators
  • Newly acquired Anthony Duclair tied Bobby Ryan for the team lead with a 50 CF%, while playing in his third game in three nights
  • Rudolfs Balcers had a team worst 21.1CF%
  • Ryan also led the Senators with three individual high-danger CF
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Line Combinations

Calgary Flames

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Frolik – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson

Rittich
Smith

Ottawa Senators

Tkachuk – Chlapik – White
Smith – Pageau – Paajarvi
Balcers – Tierney – Batherson
Duclair – Brown – Ryan

Chabot – Demelo
Harpur – Jaros
Wolanin – Goloubef

Anderson
Nilsson

Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff

Thoughts on the Game

In the end, what Mama and Papa Tkachuk wanted won out. With much of the pre-game story centering around Matthew and Brady Tkachuk’s first NHL match-up, and the fact that their parents made them promise to not fight one another, I was not expecting to see the game unfold any other way. Ultimately, Brady would walk away with the goal scoring bragging rights, but Matthew would get the last laugh with the team victory.

Brother vs. Brother story line aside, there as a lot of attention paid towards what was happening off the ice surrounding these two teams and the upcoming trade deadline. Heading into tomorrow, we’ll see if anything happens between these two teams, but during the game itself, the referees decided to try and steal the spotlight once again.

I was as baffled as the Sportsnet crew was when Matthew Tkachuk’s first period goal was called back on based on the moving target that is “goaltender interference”. I was equally as shocked when the NHL managed a bit of some unusual consistency in overturning the exact same type of play going the other way against Ottawa.

All-in-all though, everything seemed to even out and Calgary came away with a win that probably should not have been as close as the 2-1 score suggests. The first line was quiet once again on this night and the Flames had to rely on depth scoring, and that is quickly becoming a source of strength. The main takeaway is that we can head into tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline with excitement and feeling good that the Flames are where they are.

The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Good: Mikael Backlund drew within four goals of his third career 20-goal season. He is having a very strong second half to the season, along with the rest of the Flames’ depth scoring.

Bad:“That’s not goaltender interference… oh wait, yes it is… okay maybe not… we better talk to Toronto…” The season is on its last leg and somehow, we still know nothing about goaltender interference.

Beautiful:Someone tell Zdeno Chara that it’s time to pass on the “Big Z” torch to Czarnik. He has four goals in his last five games, including three game winners.

Next Game

Opponent: New York Islanders
Record: 36-18-7
Standings: 1st in the Metropolitan
Season Series: 1-0-0


Photo by Matt Zambonin/NHLI via Getty Images

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