The Calgary Flames headed into their Friday night match-up with the visiting New York Rangers hoping to reclaim first place in both the Pacific Division and Western Conference. The Flames went back to David Rittich in net.
The first half of the first period was fairly uneventful, however at exactly the half way point of the period, Johnny Gaudreau broke in on a breakaway and put the home side up by one. The goal came on one of the nicest stretch passes that you’ll see, coming off the stick of Matthew Tkachuk who caught sight of Gaudreau calling for the puck. The assist was the first of a career-high five points on this special night for Tkachuk.
Just over one minute later, the Rangers’ Neal Pionk tied the game up on a hard shot to the far side of the net. Rittich came out to challenge and was in good position, but Pionk’s shot bested the Flames netminder. The rest of the first would finish without any further scoring.
The start of the second period came with bad news for the Flames. Sean Monahan was not present on the bench and was later revealed to be ill. He won’t travel with the Flames to Winnipeg.
That didn’t stop the pace for the Flames; however, as Tkachuk was being double shifted, and he thrived in such a role. Early on in the middle frame, Tkachuk parked himself in front of the net and tipped home a Mark Giordano wrist shot, giving Calgary a 2-1 lead.
A bit over a minute later, Tkachuk centred a puck to the front of the net, placing it perfectly for Garnet Hathaway to redirect up and over Rangers goaltender Alexander Georgiev.
The third period saw much of the same for the Flames in a game that they controlled the flow of the play in, for the most part. In specific, the Flames’ feisty winger took matters into his own hands.
Tkachuk continued on with his on-ice show. A quarter way through the third, he corralled a rebound in front of the Rangers net and fed a beautiful backhand pass cross crease to Michael Frolik. Frolik would make no mistake burying his fourteenth of the season over a down-and-out Georgiev.
Just before the halfway point of the third period, the Flames were buzzing once again in the offensive zone. Mikael Backlund fed the puck across and Tkachuk swept the puck into an wide open net, putting the finishing touches on his masterpiece, just one game after Gaudreau had himself a showcase as well.
The five point performance puts Tkachuk over the 70 point plateau, and gives Calgary four such players now, which is the most in the NHL. Giordano will surely make that five players at that mark very soon.
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5v5 Player Stats
- Frolik was exceptional and led the Flames with a 80.0 CF%
- Backlund and Derek Ryan tied for the team lead with three individual high-danger CF
- Giordano, Frolik, Tkachuk and Monahan all had a 100% high-danger CF rating
New York Rangers
- Tony DeAngelo led the Rangers with a 54.5 CF% and was one of only three Rangers with a positive CF%
- Brendan Lemieux had a team worst 12.5 CF%
- The Rangers only had 5 total individual high-danger CF
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Czarnik
Mangiapane – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Fantenberg – Andersson
New York Rangers
Kreider – Zibanejad – Fast
Namestnikov – Strome – Chytil
Lemieux – Howden – Buchnevich
Vesey – Andersson – Brickley
Staal – Pionk
DeAngelo – Skjei
Smith – Shattenkirk
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
The 2018-19 Calgary Flames season has been a season marked with plenty of high points for the team and its fan base. We have enjoyed breakout campaigns from several players, and a team that is one of the elite in the NHL.
You could go on and on about the individual and team accolades that this Flames group is racking up. We as a fan base have been spoiled when it comes to being in awe of what this team can do.
So if you had come to any Flames fan at the start of the week and said that we have not seen nothing yet, it would have been unbelievable and believable at the same time.
Well that is exactly what we were treated to this week as Tkachuk started the week off with his first career hat trick on Sunday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. Two nights later, the top line put on a show, running roughshod on the New Jersey Devils, led by Gaudreau with his first ever six point night, and the first six point outing in the NHL since Jamie Benn did it in 2013-14.
Not to be outdone, Tkachuk tried his utmost best to match Gaudreau’s performance, putting up a five spot on the board. With this recent stretch it would appear that the Flames’ top guns have found their respective games once again.
As we head down the stretch and into the playoffs, the C of Red has plenty of signs to be encouraged by. For the second game in a row, the Flames not only beat a team that they are far superior to on paper, they absolutely dismantled said teams. While it’d be wise to keep emotions in check, this sure seems like a team poised for a long run in the playoffs.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Matthew Tkachuk is back. With the playoffs looming, it appears that Tkachuk’s slump is no more and he has taken his game to that next level.
Bad: There wasn’t much to point to for the bad. An injury scare for Monahan would be the worst of it, and it turns out it’s just an illness.
Beautiful: Johnny Hockey looks like he has finally figured out this breakaway thing.
Opponent: Winnipeg Jets
Standings: 1st in the Central
Season Series: 2-0-0
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images