Off to the East the Calgary Flames went, continuing their season-long six-game road trip. After an embarrassing outcome against the Edmonton Oilers, the Flames faced the daunting task of facing the best team in the league in the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Before the game started, it was announced that both Jacob Markstrom and Frederik Andersen would be out of the game due to injuries, meaning David Rittich and Michael Hutchinson would face off between the pipes. Oliver Kylington also made his season debut—he was just one day shy of not playing an NHL game for a full calendar year.
In the first period, the Flames managed to do something they hadn’t done since February 11: score the first goal of the game. The puck trickled past Hutchinson in the crease and Sam Bennett tapped the puck in to put the Flames up on the board. The goal also marked the first lead the Flames had since February 15, as Calgary has spent three straight games either tied or trailing.
With some more good news for the Flames, Matthew Tkachuk broke his scoreless drought in the second period by tipping in a Mark Giordano shot on the power play, earning the elite winger his 100th career NHL goal. The Leafs pressed hard throughout the period, but Rittich stopped all 17 shots he faced in the middle frame.
Heading into the third period with a two-goal lead, the Flames found themselves in a recently unfamiliar position; however, they have a good track record at closing out games when they have a multi-goal lead. To ease the tension on the Flames’ bench, Sean Monahan extended the lead by adding a goal of his own. Similar to Tkachuk, Monahan also broke his scoring drought, having not scored a goal since January 24.
The Leafs couldn’t find a way to solve Rittich, and the game came to its conclusion with many reliefs all around— the Flames ending their losing streak and getting back in the win column, Rittich earning his first win and shutout of the season, and the aforementioned goalless droughts from two of Calgary’s star players also coming to an end.
Check out the visualisations from the game below:
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Check out our tutorial on how to plot an NHL rink using R with the full code and customisation options included!
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