The Calgary Flames were looking to bounce back from a 4-2 setback against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Coming off a rough outing for Mike Smith, Calgary turned to David Rittich to backstop the Flames against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oliver Kylington would also draw back into the lineup on the third defensive pairing.
The Flames and Leafs would both come out of the gate flying in this one. Both teams started the game with an entertaining and uptempo pace, as they both exchanged good scoring chances. However, the Leafs opened the scoring on the power play as Tyler Ennis put in his tenth of the year on a nearly empty net backhand shot. Ennis drew back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch. More on that in a bit.
Toronto also added two more goals near the end of the period. Ennis potted his second goal of the night on a play that would be a microcosm of Calgary’s luck on this night. As Ennis shot the puck toward the net, it bounced off Rasmus Andersson and fluttered over the glove of a sprawling Rittich in what felt like a slow motion pop fly.
Zach Hyman added his 15th of the year with just over one minute left in the first on a controversial goal that went off his foot and in. The play was reviewed and ultimately stood as a good goal. Being down 3-0 after one against the Leafs was not a good scenario for the Flames.
Things did not fare well for the Flames in the second period either. Less than five minutes into the second frame, Hyman added to the Leaf’s lead in the second, scoring off a beautiful cross-crease pass from Mitch Marner.
Fortunately, the next team to score would be the home team. Late in the second frame, the Flames went on their first power play and quickly capitalized.
The power play saw Johnny Gaudreau control the puck down low and work it out front on a nice wrap around attempt. As the puck bounced off of a Leafs defenceman, Matthew Tkachuk found it and tucked it in under Frederik Andersen, scoring his 26th of the season. The score was 4-1 for the Leafs after forty minutes.
The third period saw more of the same as the Leafs’ Ennis completed his first hat trick, making the case that he probably shouldn’t be scratched again. In what was a seemingly harmless wrist shot from the boards, it caught a screened Rittich off guard. That goal sent the Leafs hats flying in Saddledome crowd that was saturated with blue.
Derek Ryan pulled Calgary back to within three goals, only to have Mitch Marner put the game to bed with his 24th of the season. There would be no Flames third period magic last night.
All in all, the Flames played a good game and the score was not indicative of their play at the end of the night. This game marked the first time since mid-November that Calgary dropped two regulation games in a row.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Ryan had a good night with a goal and he led the team with a 73.1 CF%
- Austin Czarnik had a team-high 3 individual high-danger CF
- Michael Frolik was one of only two Flames that had negative possession numbers with a team-low 48.6 CF%
Toronto Maple Leafs
- Nikita Zaitsev led the Maple Leafs with a 54.1 CF%
- William Nylander had a game-worst 25.8 CF%
- Nylander, Connor Brown and Igor Ozhiganov all had a CF% under 30%; Martin Marincin‘s just above
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
Toronto Maple Leafs
Hyman – Tavares – Marner
Johnsson – Matthews – Kapanen
Marleau – Nylander – Brown
Ennis – Gauthier – Moore
Rielly – Hainsey
Muzzin – Zaitsev
Marincin – Ozhiganov
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
It is tough to walk away from this game and think that the Flames played poorly. In fact, they probably deserved a better fate on this night. To sum this game up in a couple of words is actually easy. Bad luck.
In a league where the margin for error is so thin, mistakes and bad luck can end your night badly. This holds true even more when you are facing one of the league’s top teams like the Maple Leafs. An almost comedic series of bad breaks saw this game over far earlier than anyone anticipated.
To rub salt in the wound a bit more, a night like tonight just had to happen against the Leafs, whose fans are usually well represented when they visit Calgary. Hearing the “Go Leafs Go” chants all night serves to make this game feel just a little bit uglier than it actually was.
As they say, throw out the game tape on this one and move on.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Good: Gaudreau notched his 84th point of the season, which ties a career high for the young superstar.
Bad: The Leafs piled on goals, and not all of them were necessarily earned.
Every bouncing puck the Leafs had went in…
Ugly: …Every bouncing puck the Flames had skipped over their sticks.
Opponent: Vegas Golden Knights
Standings: 3rd in the Pacific
Season Series: 1-1-0
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images