It was not exactly the smoothest game, but the Flames will take the win. Johnny Gaudreau started a wild first period for the Flames with a slick breakaway goal four minutes in. Soon after, while killing a five on three powerplay, Mikael Backlund finished his own breakaway attempt. But the Rangers kept their two man advantage and scored twice on the powerplay to even the game at two. A lucky bounce off a skate from a Derek Ryan shot gave the Flames the lead going into the break. Kaapo Kakko scored for the Rangers early in the second, but a beautiful rush by the Flames led to Sean Monahan’s game winner shortly after.
5v5 Player Stats
- Milan Lucic had the highest CF% on the team with 81.25% in 10:06 of ice time.
- Tobias Rieder had the lowest CF% on the team with 21.43% in 9:31 of ice time.
- Sean Monahan led the team with three iSCF
New York Rangers
- Brendan Smith had the highest CF% on the team with 72.73%, although he played 5:46 of ice time.
- Brady Skjei had the lowest CF% on the team with 28.00% in 13:25 of ice time.
- Jesper Fast had the most scoring chances on the team with three iSCF.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
There are two positives from this game for the Flames. The first is that they found a way to win, and every game matters from this point forward. Two points are two points and the Flames will be happy to defend the Saddledome and secure a win.
The second positive is that the Flames won in large part to some special individual efforts by their star players. Gaudreau looked to be in vintage form when he jumped on a Rangers turnover and finished the breakaway with one of his patented five hole moves. It was a bit of a gift for the winger, but one that he capitalized on with confidence and executed properly.
Later, in the third period, Gaudreau made a beautiful cross seam pass on the rush to Noah Hanifin, who tapped a pass inside to Monahan, who scored quickly with a flick of the wrist. It was exactly what the Flames need from both Gaudreau and Monahan. Johnny gaining the zone and making effective seam passes, and Monahan spending time in the dangerous areas in front of the net where his all world release is useful. It was not otherwise a perfect game for the Flames, but they won’t feel the need to apologize for their stars winning one for them. They needed some big plays and they got them.
In other notes from the game, it was a good effort for the Lucic and Ryan pairing who played with Sam Bennett or Dillon Dube for most of the night. Their possession stats were fantastic, with the Bennett version of the line posting an 87.50% CF%, and it was obviously good to see their hard work result in Ryan’s goal. Lucic looked ok in this one, and was playing his usual physical game, but still is having trouble translating possession numbers to high danger chances. Regardless, when a third or fourth line dominates possession and is sound defensively, there can’t be too many complaints.
It was an interesting night for Bennett as well. He has been rumoured to be one of the Flames players who was unhappy with their playing time and role lately, and following the trade of Michael Frolik should be expecting a more solid role. With that being said he would have been hoping for a better start to the post-Frolik era. He wasn’t bad necessarily, and his possession numbers were good, but he did not really make anything happen. He also took another bad stick penalty that hurt the Flames. On top of that, he got his only chance of the game and went between the legs with it. You love the confidence, but you would also love to see a player who has really struggled this year make a stronger play and bury it. Moves like that are always risk and reward, but the risk won this time.
In goal for the Flames, Cam Talbot wasn’t spectacular, but made enough saves to secure the win. The first goal by Jacob Trouba was a straight shot, but it was relatively close in and it was a perfect shot. Those happen in the NHL, especially on a 5 v 3 powerplay. The second was a rebound goal that Talbot didn’t really have a chance on. Finally Kakko’s goal hit a body in front and changed direction at the last second. Talbot must have been relieved to get some goal support from the offence after beginning the season with so many duds while he was in net. Not his best game, but good enough.
Final thought goes to Backlund for his incredible effort on the five on three to score a goal. Down two men, it is basically impossible to create offence, but Backlund was in the right lane, stole a bad pass from the Rangers player, and calmly put a backhand into the top shelf on King Henrik Lundqvist. It has not been the best year for Backlund offensively, but plays like that remind everyone why he is one of the better 200 foot players in the league.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Gaudreau and Monahan both made special plays to preserve the Win for the Flames.
Bad: Matthew Tkachuk’s line with Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane was pretty quiet. Also Sam Bennet between the legs… oof.
Beautiful: Sean Monahan’s goal. Vintage passing from the top line leads to beautiful goal. Haven’t seen that enough this season.
Opponent: Minnesota Wild
Standings: 5th in the Central
Season Series: 0-1-0
Photo by: Gerry Thomas / Getty Images