The first period was very back and forth but halfway through the first, Dmitri Kulikov played an incredible pass to Nikolaj Ehlers who put the puck past Cam Talbot far side. Just nine seconds later the Jets took a careless penalty, and just nine seconds after that, the Flames evened the score. Elias Lindholm redirected a pass from Erik Gustafsson past Connor Hellebuyck.
About six minutes into the second period, the Flames struck again. Neal Pionk got his wires crossed with Hellebuyck and Andrew Mangiapane picked up the pick and fed Mikael Backlund to put the Flames ahead.
From there, the Flames kept pressing, Dillon Dube worked hard to keep the puck in the zone, and Milan Lucic‘s shot from the point took a funny bounce and beat Hellebuyck, but it was called back as Dube interfered with the Winnipeg goaltender. Just moments later, the Jets took another needless penalty hooking Sean Monahan hard into the boards, but seconds later it was Monahan who added to the Flames’ lead.
However, a few minutes later with Milan Lucic in the box, Andrew Copp gives the Jets life to bring them back to within one. But the ever incredible 3M line came to the Flames’ rescue. Backlund and Mangiapane forced a turnover behind the net, and the latter fed Matthew Tkachuk right in front of the net to extend the lead to two.
In the third, again on the powerplay, Dube took a shot from the far side which Hellebuyck stopped, but the rebound went right to Lucic who made no mistake tucking it into the back of the net. Johnny Gaudreau would add an empty net goal, as the Flames took this one 6-2.
5v5 Player Stats
- Tkachuk led the way for the Flames with a 65.7% CF.
- However, he was one of only four Flames over 50% CF, joining his linemates Mangiapane and Backlund along with Noah Hanifin
- Although he was over 50% CF, Hanifin and partner Andersson were both on the ice for five high danger chances against and only two for.
- Ehlers was dominant for the Jets, posting a 70% CF, and had nine individual shot attempts.
- The same could not be said for Nathan Beaulieu who posted a game low 23.5% CF in about 14 minutes of icetime
- No Jets skater had more than one individual high danger chance. However, Ehlers had six individual scoring chances.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
This was exactly what the Flames needed. The team got a standout performance from their top players, their goaltender was at his absolute best, they converted on the power play, and did not have a line that hurt them as hard as the fourth line did last game. In short, the Flames played a much stronger game than the Jets.
Let’s break this down further. The Flames top six players were dynamic all night. The top line had three goals and four assists in this one, and showed up when their team needed them. Monahan looked especially dialed in. Lindholm sparkled at both ends of the ice, and Gaudreau was dangerous all over the ice. The Jets seemed to have their eye on Gaudreau and were good at stopping him from skating the puck out of the Flames’ zone and creating transition plays. That being said, it did not stop him from sparkling, especially on the power play.
The real dynamite line for the team was the 3M line. Combining for two goals and a team leading 22 shot attempts, this line was absolutely dynamic. After a quieter game last game, all three were electric. Mangiapane was especially good, and was able to force turnovers that led to two goals. The big question going into this series was whether they could shut down the Jets top line, and they showed time and again this game that they could not only do that, but dominate the game offensively.
When the Flames could not hold the Jets, they were bailed out by their goaltender Cam Talbot. He was incredible. Nothing short of incredible. Stopping 33 of the 35 shots he faced, including five of the six high danger chances he faced, he was a major difference maker for the Flames. While Hellebuyck may be in the running for the Vezina Trophy this season, Talbot has been far and away the better goalkeeper this series.
Finally, the Flames managed to control the special teams play. After a game in which they went zero for six on the powerplay, they absolutely turned that around, going an incredible three for four with the man advantage. While they got two goals from the top unit, they also got a goal from the second unit, which struggled to get going through the regular season.
They were also significantly more disciplined. The Flames only took two penalties this game, and although they gave up one goal on the powerplay, it was a far cry from the six penalties they took the game before.
The Flames will have an opportunity to close out the series on Thursday. And although the Jets are severely injured, they are still a strong and desperate team, not one the Flames can afford to take lightly. This game was a great start, but the real test will be next game when they will show whether they can or cannot be a playoff team. This is the game where it will be all on the line.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Bad: The series is getting rougher with both Monahan and Tkachuk the victims of rough contact that could have ended worse than they did. Hopefully their bodies are not too banged up at the end of the series.
Beautiful : The third line of Sam Bennett with Dube and Lucic pressed hard, and was able to generate a number of quality scoring chances. Having a strong bottom six against an already hurt Jets side could be the difference in the next game.
Opponent: Winnipeg Jets
Standings: 4th in the Central
Photo by: Dave Sandford/Getty Images