The Calgary Flames faced the Winnipeg Jets for the third and final time this (regular) season, looking to sweep the season series against their Western division-leading counterparts. Given that the Flames were tacked with travel and a second game of a back-to-back, coupled with Sean Monahan being out of the lineup due to illness, expectations going into the game might have been preemptively tempered.
The game marked Michael Stone‘s return to the lineup since being sidelined with a blood clot, and it was later announced Sam Bennett would also miss the game, the Flames opted to deploy an 11 forward/7 defenceman system for the night.
The game started off strong for the visitors; their speed out of the gates hid any signs of fatigue. Controlling the pace of play for much of the first, it was unfortunate that the Flames couldn’t get up to an early lead. That isn’t to say they didn’t get their chances. Before the period was over, both Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Jankowski hit the post on prime scoring opportunities.
In the dying seconds of the first, the Jets got themselves on the board. Losing a defensive zone faceoff, the Flames looked uncoordinated for merely seconds, which was enough for Ben Chiarot to bring the puck in close and dish off a perfect pass to a wide-open Mark Scheifele. Mike Smith was unable to get across the crease in time to make the save.
Heading into the second, the Flames looked to tie the game up. It wasn’t until Mikael Backlund took a four-minute double-minor for high-sticking Bryan Little that the Flames were able to get on the board.
On the ensuing Jets power play, the Flames struck first, reminding everyone of their penalty killing prowess. The trio of Jankowski, Elias Lindholm, and Mark Giordano skated into the zone with full control of the puck and made quick work in setting up a beautiful passing play, finished by Jankowski tipping the puck right past Connor Hellebuyck to tie the game.
However, in the second half of the double-minor, the Jets got their lead back. A scramble play in the crease led to Mathieu Perrault chipping the puck right over Smith for the eventual game-winner.
Not much else would transpire in the game, but it was a full 60 minute effort from the Flames, who were the much better team of the night. They just couldn’t muster of the tying goal, and that ultimately cost them the two points, preventing them from officially clinching a playoff spot.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Lindholm, Ryan, Gaudreau, and T.J. Brodie posted the respective CF%: 94.7%, 94.1%, 82.8%, 82.6%
- Only Michael Frolik and Michael Stone had sub-50.0 CF%, each at 45.0% and 40.0%, respectively
- Gaudreau had a whopping 12 individual CF
- Little was the only Jets player to finish with a positive 61.5 CF%
- Andrew Copp and Jack Roslovic both had 0.0 CF% (that is not a typo)
- The Jets had eight players under 31.0 CF%, including the top line of Mark Scheifele (29.6%), Patrik Laine (29.6%), and Black Wheeler (30.8%).
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Ryan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Mangiapane – Jankowski – Czarnik
Quine – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Fantenberg – Andersson
Laine – Scheifele – Wheeler
Connor – Hayes – Ehlers
Tanev – Lowry – Little
Perreault – Copp – Roslovic
Beaulieu – Trouba
Kulikov – Myers
Chiarot – Niku
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
They lost a game. It’s honestly fine. Considering the Flames were the tired team, they made the Jets look silly. Being the tired visitors without line matching was no issue, nor was being without Monahan or Bennett problematic either.
The Flames were the better team, played as such, and were simply unable to get past Hellebuyck. The Jets’ top line was completely shutdown by the Flames. Referring back to the 5v5 player stats, no one ever expects a tired team to hold their opponent’s top line to extremely weak numbers, coupled with keeping two guys from generating literally any offence whatsoever.
It’s good to see Michael Stone back on the ice as well, despite being statistically the worst Flame with limited ice-time. Having him back gives the Flames options, which will come in handy. On another bright note, Ryan played a career high 20:39, and he looked great doing it too.
While it’s hard to find faults in a 2-1 loss, I can’t help but direct attention to the second goal that was scored on Smith. Despite it being a scrambled play, Smith completely gave up on tracking the puck and decided to lie down in his net hoping on an empty prayer that the puck was beneath him.
Granted there might be the argument that Noah Hanifin bumped into his netminder and the goal happened all too fast for much more to be said about it, it was clear that Smith did nothing but make the net more open for Perrault to score.
Either way, the Flames played a good game and should not let the loss change what they have going on. They have a couple days of rest coming up, so hopefully their lineup issues will be sorted out and they’ll continue to close out the season on a high.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Good: The level of team effort for the whole game. It’s hard to play a game as dominant as the Flames did on the tail end of a back-to-back, against the Jets, no less.
Bad: The late-game comeback attempt did not look too good for the Flames, granted their best players were all running on fumes by then.
Ugly: Going to point back to the second goal against. Certainly a small blemish, it was still the worst part about the game.
Opponent: Columbus Blue Jackets
Standings: 5th in Metropolitan
Season Series: 1-0-0
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images