This game was everything you would imagine from two teams with high powered offenses. Both teams had their chances, but the Flames were able to take advantage of a very slow start to the third period and put three quick goals past Frederik Anderson. From there, they were able to lock the game down and limit the Leafs’ chances against.
5v5 Player Stats
- The fourth line of Mark Jankowski, Tobias Rieder and Michael Frolik each led the way with 73.7% CF for the Flames.
- Although Dillon Dube had a decent game in which he made some smart plays, he ended the game with an abysmal 18.5% CF. He was on the ice for 13 scoring chances and five high danger chances against.
- The top line of Andrew Mangiapane, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm were on the ice for seven high danger chances for. They could not buy a goal.
- Former Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza led the way for the Leafs with a 75.0% CF.
- Ilya Mikheyev posted a team low 35.0% CF.
- The Leafs’ top line of John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and Zach Hyman were on the ice for six high danger chances for. They were sensational when the puck was on their sticks.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
When Geoff Ward took over as coach a few weeks back, one of the first things he told his team was to be “a little more barn painter, a little less Picasso” (H/T to Derek Wills for that quote). This game was a prime example of that.
The Flames played a strong, structured game, by and large, from start to finish. They made smart defensive plays in their own end, handled the puck well through the neutral zone and did not try to force the play in the offensive zone. When the play was not there to be made, the forwards would just dump the puck behind the net and head off for a line change. A big change in the style of play from earlier in the season.
The big thing that the team was able to do in this game was really take advantage of chances early in the third. While they had their moments earlier on, they struggled to beat Anderson, who has been very good against the Flames in his career. With the Leafs very flat early in the third, the Flames got three goals quickly, two from a now surging Johnny Gaudreau. From there, the Flames were in total control. Even with an extended 5 on 3, the penalty kill did not allow the Leafs many good looks and were able to lock the game down.
The top line for the Flames was exceptional. Lindholm at centre seems to be paying dividends for the team. Then you add in Mangiapane, who is looking more and more like an NHL regular, and Matthew Tkachuk, whose offensive game is only getting better, you have a group that can go toe to toe with anyone.
Mangiapane was unlucky not to have a goal tonight. He had an excellent chance on a bad giveaway right in front of Anderson’s net, a couple of passes he just could not corral, and a shot on the empty net that just went wide. It’s incredible how well the Flames have picked in the sixth round of the draft, but he is another impressive find.
The other group that had themselves an impressive game was the fourth line. Between Jankowski, Frolik, and Rieder, they could have had two or three more goals. Frolik had a beautiful goal in the third off a nice feed from Rieder, but Rider could have had one or two of his own. After a disastrously slow start to the season, Jankowski also looked very poised in the game tonight, and is beginning to show why the Flames were not willing to cut bait with him when he was slumping. A solid performance from this group.
At the end of the day, the Flames have been capitalizing on their scoring chances and playing structured hockey to get wins. Having a seven game winning streak and points in nine of their last ten games has completely reversed their fortunes. The Flames are now tied in points with the Edmonton Oilers and just two points back of the Arizona Coyotes for first in the division. If this run of form continues, the Flames may find themselves in the playoffs come April. Who knows, maybe they’ll have home ice, too.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Being able to neutralize an incredible Leafs’ powerplay, including a 1:35 5 on 3.
Bad: The once mighty Lucic-Ryan-Dube line struggled again tonight. They looked decent on the ice, but not as dominant as they had previously.
Beautiful: David Rittich stopping 32/34 shots he faced and collecting his 50th career win for the team.
Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes
Standings: 4th in the Metropolitan
Season Series: 0-1-0
Photo by: Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images