Currently one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Calgary Flames looked to extend their winning streak to six games as they took on the New York Islanders on the road last night.
The Flames hosted the Islanders last week and put together one of their most complete and dominant games of the season against the Metropolitan Division leaders. Last night was more of the same.
Neither team scored in the opening frame, but the Flames looked solid throughout, save for a couple extended shifts in their own zone. The Flames outshot the Isles 9-5 in the first.
Striking first was the road team, with an absolutely jaw dropping tally from Matthew Tkachuk on the powerplay less than three minutes into the second period. Standing at the top of the crease, he pulled the puck between his legs and roofed it on Robin Lehner for a highlight reel goal. It was his 25th of the year and snapped a 14 game goalless drought. The Islanders answered back with a goal from Josh Bailey who fired a puck five-hole on a two-on-one. The game was tied at one going into the third.
As the Flames have done so often this year, their best period was the third. They dominated the period, scoring two unanswered from Mikael Backlund and Rasmus Andersson to blow the game open, and Mike Smith held the fort for the well deserved two points. Smith made a superb save in the dying seconds of the game and appeared to tweak something in the process, but was apparently feeling fine after the game. Combined with a Sharks loss, the Flames now have a five point lead for first place in the West with a game in hand.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- T.J. Brodie led the Flames with 82.4% CF.
- Noah Hanifin was last on the team with 46.7% CF. He was the only Flames skater below 50% in the game.
- Brodie and Garnet Hathaway led with 100% HDCF, while Mark Jankowski finished at 0% HDCF.
New York Islanders
- Mathew Barzal led the Islanders with 79.2% CF.
- Anthony Beauvillier was a team worst 11.1% CF with just one CF event in the game.
- Barzal also led with 75.0% SCF in the game.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Bennett
Frolik – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Andersson
Hanifin – Hamonic
Prout – Brodie
New York Islanders
Lee – Nelson – Eberle
Ladd – Barzal – Komarov
Beauvillier – Filppula – Bailey
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
Leddy – Boychuk
Pelech – Pulock
Hickey – Toews
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
That was just a really solid game from the Flames. The Islanders are the best defensive team in the league, allowing just 2.31 goals against per game entering last night’s contest. In their two meetings this year, the Flames have scored seven goals.
I was very critical of the Flames for not adding a major piece at the deadline while seemingly everyone around them made a big add, but it’s important to remember the Flames are a very, very good hockey team. They’ve been in first place the majority of the season for a reason, and they’ve come to play. They were slow out of the gates following the all-star break, but they’ve strung together six straight wins and have a nice cushion for fist place right now.
I’ve also been critical of Smith this season, for good reason, and while I appreciate his current personal five game winning streak, it’s also important not to overstate his play. He’s still looked more like a reactive goalie than a proactive one, where at this point in the season, pucks seem to be hitting him instead of going past him like in the fall.
However, what has been refreshing to see is Smith making several incredible saves. That simply wasn’t happening early in the year and it’s very encouraging to see Smith getting those saves now. I still don’t think he’s the team’s best goalie or that he should start the playoffs, but he’s still a very important part of this team. If the Flames are to have success, they need both of their goalies to play well. I’m stoked to see Smith string some good performances together.
The Flames are good. They handled the Metro leading Isles in commanding fashion and have beaten some good teams lately. They’re postseason bound and just because they didn’t add someone at the deadline doesn’t mean they can’t make some noise in the spring. This should be a truly exciting end to the season.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: The Flames have followed up a cold stretch with their best streak of the year, six games in a row.
Bad: Smith didn’t look right at the end of the game. Hopefully he’s okay.
Beautiful: Tkachuk’s opening goal. That was a thing of beauty.
Opponent: New Jersey Devils
Standings: 8th in Metropolitan
Season Series: 0-0-0
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