The Flames started this game off quite strongly, and for the first time in nine games opened the scoring. Dillon Dube scored a beauty off a nice feed from Rasmus Andersson. The Penguins pulled one back later in the period off a power play goal from Alex Galchenyuk.
In the second, Pittsburgh took control, and out-shot and out-chanced the Flames for a good chunk. Jared McCann scored for the Penguins. However, later in the period, Sean Monahan scored on the power play to pull the Flames level.
Both teams pressed in the third — the Flames primarily in the front half of the period and the Pens in the latter half — but to no avail, and the game went to overtime. The Flames had their chances. Mikael Backlund hit the crossbar, Johnny Gaudreau failed to seal the deal on a breakaway, but it was ultimately Jake Guentzel who put a seeing-eye shot past David Rittich to give the Penguins the win.
5v5 Player Stats
- The second line of Matthew Tkachuk, Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane led the way for the Flames. Backlund posted a team-leading 64.5%
- Mark Jankowski posted a team low 40.0% CF in ten minutes of ice time.
- Dube and Derek Ryan were on the ice for two high-danger corsi chances for and none against
- Brandon Tanev posted a game leading 70.0% CF
- Eight Penguins posted a CF over 50%. Sam Lafferty posted a team low 26.3% CF
- Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger were on the ice for four scoring chances and two high-danger chances for, and none against.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
The Flames looked like a real hockey team for good stretches of the game, which is an improvement from the disengaged, disinterested side we have grown used to seeing over their losing streak. The problem though, was that the Penguins were simply better at capitalizing on their chances. Even without Sidney Crosby, the Pens are an excellent team that will make you pay when you aren’t at your best.
Even in the loss, the Flames looked markedly better. Gaudreau had one of his best games in a while. He looked dialed in, dangerous, and made plays like his regular all-star self. He is definitely still struggling to get his confidence back, but he’s taking really good steps in the right direction.
Monahan also looked much better to boot. Finally scoring a goal (his first since November 13th in Dallas) must have felt good. The top group looked very good, and posted a 54.2% CF and had two high-danger chances for. The Flames need their first line to perform and they’re currently trending up.
A couple of Flames youngsters also had a whale of a game. Andrew Mangiapane has really grown into his role on the second line with this team. Although he did not score, he drew a penalty and had two individual scoring chances for. He looked fired up and very engaged in the play. Simply put, Mangiapane has been an excellent addition to the Flames’ second line.
Let’s talk about how good Dube has been too. After a pretty miserable camp in which he was called out by Head Coach Bill Peters for not giving enough, Dube responded well to his callup to Calgary. Alongside Derek Ryan and Milan Lucic, Dube has been absolutely outstanding.
Take the goal he scored. Dube picks up the lose puck after a shot by Noah Hanifin and skates it around the net and back to the blueline. He then dishes it off to Rasmus Andersson, finds his way to some open ice for the pass, takes the pass then drives to the net and score. This was a goalscorer’s goal. This was a goal that takes patience, skill and a strong hockey IQ. While he is still young, Dube is looking increasingly ready for regular time in the NHL.
Final thought about last night. There is still a lot of concern around this team right now. They are not performing well enough to get the wins, and seem to be lacking confidence. In the last game against Philadelphia, the Flames showed glimpses of what they were last season. Last night we started to see that play out of stretches of the game.
Was it perfect? No. They did not win, obviously, but they did play a reasonably good game. Lots to build on for the next game in Buffalo, where hopefully the Flames can pick up their first win in regulation since November 7th.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the UGLY
Good: T.J. Brodie in his first game back looked quite good. Glad to see he is okay and responding well to an immediately high workload.
Bad: The Flames fourth line struggled heavily. Only Michael Frolik was above 50.0% CF
Ugly: Gaudreau unable to score on the breakaway to end the game. Oh, what could have been…
Opponent: Buffalo Sabres
Standings: 6th in the Atlantic
Season Series: 0-0-0
Photo by: Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images