The Flames started their second game in two nights with a bang. Zac Rinaldo fed Michael Frolik to open the scoring. Then Derek Ryan won am offensive zone faceoff directly to Johnny Gaudreau who one-timed it for a goal even before the Coyotes could react to double the Flames lead.
In the second, the Coyotes pressed heavily, but the Flames got a few chances and were able to take advantage. This time, Frolik fed Rinaldo to add to the Flames lead. Later in the frame, Sean Monahan raced down the wing and put the puck past Antti Raanta to make it 4-0 Flames. The Coyotes kept pressing, and with ten seconds left in the period, Jakob Chychrun put them on the board.
The Coyotes kept pushing in the third, but Talbot held the line. Milan Lucic got the Flames another goal late in the third on a power play, and very late in the period, Phil Kessel got one for the Coyotes also with the man-advantage, but that was as close as they would come. Flames remain undefeated under interim coach Geoff Ward.
5v5 Player Stats
- Andrew Mangiapane led the way for the Flames with a 60.9% CF
- Usually a strong two-way player, Backlund posted a game-low 18.8% CF
- While the Flames were out-chanced, they had more high-danger chances than the Coyotes
- Gaudreau, Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic were on the ice for five high-danger chances for.
- Christian Dvorak posted a game high 71.9% CF
- Brad Richardson and Conor Garland were the only Coyotes players below 50% CF
- Jordan Oesterle and Aaron Ness were on the ice for five high-danger chances against while starting 80% of their shifts in the offensive zone.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
This game was fast paced and energetic by both teams. Unlike previous games against Arizona which were more structured and defensive, this one was a real barn burner.
Tonight was the epitome of a team effort. The Flames got two goals from their fourth line, including a goal and an assist from Rinaldo who slotted into the game in place of injured Matthew Tkachuk. They also got goals from Gaudreau on the third line, Monahan from a nifty Mikael Backlund feed on the second line, and Lucic on the power play.
Playing the second half of a back-to-back is always tough, but Talbot stood on his head for the team. Making a number of ten bell saves, he more than kept his team in it as the Coyotes were relentless. He stopped 46 of the 48 shots he faced, and was the best player on the ice. If he can keep performing like this and giving David Rittich a night off here and there, then the Flames’ tandem could earn some accolades down the stretch.
As avid hockey fans, we all often have strong opinions about the way that we would run the team. However, sometimes we need to remember that the coaches and management of the team understand the team better that we do. Putting Rinaldo in tonight when they had called up the seventh leading scorer in Matthew Phillips was one that upset a number of people.
However looking at Rinaldo’s performance, you have to give him credit for stepping up. He performed admirably for the team, creating three individual corsi events, one individual scoring chance, and one individual high-danger chance. An all-around great game for him.
Coming into the game, the Arizona Coyotes were tied for first in the Pacific with 40 points. They are a very good team, led by the best combined save percentage in the NHL. Although the Flames have looked good since Geoff Ward took over as coach, the last game against Colorado and this game were going to be the real tests.
Were the Flames perfect in these two games? No. But they did get their chances, and they took advantage of them. The team played a strong game, and were helped by smart defensive plays in their own zone, and incredible goaltending.
This team has started playing like a team, and if they continue playing like this, they can go into Christmas with a comfortable spot in the standings after being nearly down and out not too long ago.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Lucic getting another goal for the Flames after a slow start has been a great story for the Flames
Bad: Although they got a goal, the line of Monahan, Backlund, and Dube posted an abysmal 20% CF
Beautiful: Talbot was the hero tonight, a truly beautiful performance
Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs
Standings: 5th in the Atlantic
Season Series: 0-0-0
Photo by: Norm Hall/ NHLI Via Getty Images