Returning to the Saddledome after a quick stop in Edmonton, the Calgary Flames got right back into action against the Toronto Maple Leafs. David Rittich faced off against Michael Hutchinson in the battle of the backups, with Rittich looking for just his fifth win of the season while Hutchinson trying to secure his fourth.
In terms of roster changes, Mikael Backlund returned after missing one game, and the Flames opted to scratch Juuso Valimaki while keeping both Michael Stone and Nikita Nesterov in the game (Josh Leivo was the lone forward scratched for Calgary).
Early in the game, things quickly went awry for Calgary, as the Leafs got ahead with the opening goal just 58 seconds into the game courtesy of Morgan Rielly. While the Leafs were more dominant to start the game, the period quickly turned its tides and the Flames got some momentum back.
Just past the midway mark of the first, Joakim Nordstrom tipped in a Mark Giordano shot for his first goal as a Flame, but more importantly Giordano notched his 500th career NHL point—it’d be a goal worthy of big celebration in a season that has been anything but for Calgary.
Before the period was over, Andrew Mangiapane was left uncovered with only Backlund noticing him, and the Bread Man made quick work putting the Flames up by one heading into the first intermission.
Heading into the second, the Flames opened with a flurry. The Leafs on the other hand were struggling in the early minutes of the frame. However, the once again the tides turned and Toronto began putting up pressure while the Flames sat back. Unfortunately for Calgary, this led to the Leafs tying it up with Alex Galchenyuk scoring his first with the club.
With the game knotted at two a piece after 40 minutes of play, the Flames were looking like they were pulling their weight against the Leafs, but the third period was a story of bad luck and cumulative frustration for Calgary. Just about seven minutes into the period, the Leafs got off a couple of shots where Rittich displayed some key saves, but as the puck rebounded, it went off Noah Hanifin‘s skate past Rittich to put the Leafs up by one.
Just a little over two minutes later, the Leafs padded their lead as Auston Matthews was fed a perfectly placed pass from Mitch Marner that put Rittich completely out of position and scored one of the easier goals he’s scored this year.
The Flames once again found themselves in a similar spot where the final frame would be their demise. Tried as they did, they couldn’t muster another goal, and were sunk by the Leafs. Results aside, a major congratulations to the captain for 500 career NHL points. What a feat that was soured by a defeat.
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