About Last Night 70: Flames come back but can’t hold on against Vegas Golden Knights

The Flames started this game the wrong way — Tomas Nosek and Nick Holden scored on David Rittich in the first period for the early lead. Not the start the Flames’ netminder was looking for after sitting out the previous three games.

Max Pacioretty added to Vegas’ lead on the power play early in the second to make it 3-0. However, a few minutes later, Milan Lucic was in on a two-on-one and elected to do all the work himself, putting the Flames on the scoreboard. Later in the second, Dillon Dube walked in and scored top shelf on Robin Lehner on the power play. The Flames were within one and the game flow completely changed.

In the third, the Flames’ momentum disappeared and they did not press much for much of the period. In the final moments of the game, the home team tied it up on a nice passing play between Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk with exactly three minutes left in the game.

The Golden Knights were not content to send this game to overtime. With one minutes and ten seconds left, Shea Theodore shot one from a sharp angle that took a bad bounce of Mangiapane’s stick, beating Rittich high to put the Knights back in front. Jonathan Marchessault added the empty netter, and the Flames went on to lose 5-3.

Statistical Breakdown

5v5 SVACF%SCF%HDCF%xGF%
28.139.033.029.0
71.961.067.071.0

Team Stats

5v5 Player Stats

Calgary Flames
  • The only player for the Flames at 50% was Noah Hanifin who played exactly two minutes before leaving the game with an upper body injury.
  • Although he scored a power play goal and made a few quality plays, Dube was completely underwater in the shot attempt department, posting an abysmal 14.3% CF
  • Elias Lindholm had five even strength shot attempts in this one, leading the team.
Opponent
  • Ryan Reaves posted a game high 77.8% CF
  • Alec Martinez and goal scorer Theodore posted team low 57.5% CFs. Theodore also had ten shot attempts.
  • Although he did not score, William Karlsson had nine shot attepts, and led his team with six individual scoring chances.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Thoughts on the Game

This was one of the most important games for the Flames this season, and they were completely steamrolled by Vegas. They were outplayed, out-chanced, and out-muscled up and down the ice, and realistically did not show that they wanted to win this game. Were it not for a reasonably poor game from Lehner, the Flames would have had not even come as close as they did.

This was a game where the Flames’ top two lines mostly held their own against Vegas’ top forwards, but the Flames bottom two lines were completely out played at 5v5. The top two groups of the Flames actually looked pretty decent against the Knights. The Monahanline had a number of great chances, including a breakaway by Johnny Gaudreau midway through the game. Unfortunately he was unable to capitalize on this chance.

The Backlund line also had their chances. It looked as though Backlund himself had scored midway through the first period, but the play was called back due to goaltender interference. On top of that, the line generated five high danger scoring chances for, and were able to apply some strong offensive zone pressure. Although they were still under 50% in the shot attempts department, they were able to generate chances, and scored the game tying goal.

The same cannot be said for the bottom two lines. Although both Lucic and Dube scored, that line was on the ice for 12 shot attempts against. They did not have a single shot attempt for until Lucic scored his goal.

While goals are the most important part of hockey, allowing the other team six scoring chances is not a recipe for success. This line was one of the few bright spots for the team during their losing spell earlier this season, but something has not been clicking of late.

Derek Ryan has not looked himself in the last few games, and although Lucic looked better in this one, he is still quite slow and less effective than he was in his prime. The Flames may want to look at switching this group up.

It was very hard to watch Hanifin go down early in this one. After an odd double body check by him and Lucic, where the latter fell right on top of him, Hanifin quickly made his way down the tunnel and did not return. While he was not the Flames’ best defencemen, losing him is a big loss on the blueline. Hopefully he won’t be out too long, and hopefully Travis Hamonic will be able to slot in next game.

One of the reasons that the Flames have really struggled against Vegas has been because of Vegas’ strong two-way play. They play very well as a five man unit both on the forecheck and on the backcheck.

The Vegas forecheckers pressed the Flames up high, and were successful in creating turnovers at the line. They also were not afraid when their defenders took the puck into the corner or pinched to hold the puck in; it seemed like someone was always back there to prevent an odd-man rush. The Flames were unable to impose their style on the Golden Knights, and as a result could not pick up the two points in this one. Hopefully they will have a better outcome against the Islanders next game.

The Gaud, the Bad, and the UGLY

Good: Hockey should be for everyone, and it was incredible to see Sportsnet honour International Women’s Day by having an all-female crew running the broadcast

Bad: Losing Hanifin early in this one caused issues up and down the defence for the Flames

Ugly: It’s no fun to see your team lose. It’s even worse to see them tie the game and then still lose in regulation time.

Next Game

Opponent: New York Islanders
Record: 35-23-9
Standings: 5th in the Metropolitan
Season Series: 0-0-0


Photo by: Derek Leung/NHLI via Getty Images

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