In the second game of a five-game road trip, the Calgary Flames started off well with a strong first period capped off by a Matthew Tkachuk goal. Brad Marchand answered back in the second while shorthanded to pull the Boston Bruins back even, but Sean Monahan put two past Tuukka Rask to put the Flames up by a pair.
In the third, the Bruins kept it interesting with Chris Wagner jamming one past David Rittich, but Mikael Backlund would go in on a partial break and snap one past Rask to keep the lead at two. Backlund would then pot a final goal into the empty net to secure a 5-2 win for the boys in red.
5v5 Player Stats
- Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane posted twin 60.0% CFs in this one
- On the flip side, Derek Ryan had a forgettable outing, posting a game-low 23.5% CF. He was on the ice for eight scoring chances against, and only one for
- Erik Gustafsson got his first point as a Flame, and posted a 48.0% CF in 18.13.
- Held off the score sheet, other new Flame Derek Forbort posted a 45.8% CF
- The Bruins best players were their best players in this one. Patrice Bergeron posted a game-high 66.7% CF with David Pastrnak not far behind at 65.8% CF
- Anders Bjork posted a team-low 27.3% CF
- Torey Krug created seven individual shot attempts in this game
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
The Flames played one of their best games of the season, and once again starting strong played a part. In a game against the top team in the Atlantic Division, the Flames kept the Bruins’ to the outside, and kept the puck mostly in their opponent’s end. The visitors were well-structured, defensively sound, and absolutely earned the victory.
Just like last game, the Flames top players were their best. The second line of Tkachuk, Backlund, and Mangiapane were electric up and down the ice. They had three of the Flames’ five goals in this one, and Tkachuk finished with a goal and two helpers.
This new look MMA line has been dynamic both offensively and defensively. They only allowed three scoring chances against all game, and closed down the best players for the Bruins. An incredible show of force for them.
On top of that, the top line of Monahan with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm capitalized on their chances. Monahan had two goals, one of which was on the power play, and Gaudreau had a chance on a partial break, which was stopped by Rask.
The trio played a strong game at both ends of the ice and were above 50% in all major stat categories. One thing that this line has struggled with has been defensive breakdowns, but they held the Bruins to only five scoring chances, only one of which was high-danger.
Finally, Rittich seems to have found his form. In a tough test against a Bruins team with the current Rocket Richard leader Pastrnak, he managed to shut down almost everything he faced. Hard to fault him on either goal against; both were high-danger chances.
The first was a shorthanded breakaway from the ever dangerous Marchand. The second was on a broken play in which the Flames defenders could not get the puck back. Wagner and his linemates just kept pressing at the crease (with Rittich completely down and out) until they scored. With Rittich and Talbot both playing like they could both be starters, this only bodes well for the Flames.
Finally, let’s talk about the new Flames. In their first game, both Gustafsson and Forbort looked quite good. The former anchored the first power play unit and looked very comfortable and poised in the role. The one thing that really stood out was his calmness on the puck.
Gustafsson plays with a steady hand, and has great vision. He made quality seam passes through the middle to help generate offense. Forbort was not as noticeable as Gustafsson, but was dependable and reliable up and down the ice, particularly in his own zone. Both players can prove to be more and more valuable in the coming games.
Coming down the stretch, each and every game matters. With the Flames in the fight of their lives for a playoff spot, they need to at least keep pace with their division rivals if they want to play hockey into the spring.
This game was a great result for the Flames. When you can beat a team as good as Boston, especially at the TD Garden, where the B’s had only lost two games all season prior to last night, it definitely puts some swagger in your step. Hopefully the Flames can build on this win and find the momentum to propel them into the playoffs.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Gustafsson picking up his first point with the Flames. Always good to see new signings settling in quickly.
Bad: The third line of Ryan, Dillon Dube and Milan Lucic which once carried this team had a very rough night tonight. The Flames will need more from them, especially on the road when they don’t have last change.
Beautiful: Nothing like going into the best team in the league’s barn and handing them just their third home-ice loss this season. A beautiful feeling.
Opponent: Nashville Predators
Standings: 5th in the Central
Season Series: 1-1-0
Photo by: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images