What a strange season it has been for Calgary. No one would have predicted that David Rittich would be starting against his former team just one day after the 2021 NHL trade deadline, but that’s exactly what happened. After Rittich was traded for a 2022 third round pick, he immediately got the chance to face off against his former team.
Oh, and it was also Milan Lucic‘s 1000th career NHL game. Big kudos to the him on the accomplishment.
The game started off with a lot of squinting for many viewers as seeing Rittich don a blue Leafs jersey was a confusing sight. Early in the first, the Flames got ahead as the Leafs defence did a lot of watching the puck and not covering Juuso Valimaki. He snuck behind everybody and Lucic found him for a wide open shot to beat Rittich.
Not long after, the Leafs tied it up with Zach Hyman picking up a loose puck just a few feet to the right of Markstrom and tucked it past him going top shelf. On the ensuing faceoff, instead of waiting for the puck to drop, Lucic and Scott Sabourin were itching to fight and both false started.
It didn’t matter though, as they immediately dropped their gloves again after a proper faceoff and got their tussle underway. On any other night it’s just another Lucic scrap, but during his 1000th game, he was gunning hard for a Gordie Howe hat trick after getting that first assist so early. The game remained tied at one apiece after 20 minutes of play.
In the first minute of the second period, the Flames got an early power play. After Elias Lindholm won the faceoff, all five Flames touched the puck in the span of seven seconds, as Matthew Tkachuk picked up the puck in the faceoff circle, from there it went to Rasmus Andersson to Mark Giordano to Johnny Gaudreau. From there Gaudreau passed it to Tkachuk who one-timed passed it back to Lindholm to complete the loop, and he’d make no mistake one-timing it past Rittich.
The rest of the second went fairly close for both teams but both Rittich and Jacob Markstrom were up to the task. In the third, the Leafs were able to tie things up again courtesy of Alexander Kerfoot. The Leafs had a chance to go ahead with Andersson sitting out for four minutes for highsticking Joe Thornton, but they couldn’t solve Markstrom.
Across all three periods, things were very even for the Flames and Leafs, and no one team really got away with extended runs of offence. That was, until the final minutes of the third where the Leafs seemingly ran out of gas while the Flames gained a good amount of momentum.
As the game carried over into overtime, the opening unit of Gaudreau, Lindholm, and Giordano got to work quickly. Gaudreau received a pass from Lindholm and faced Rittich one on one, and the winger made quick work of his longtime goaltender, pulling off some fancy stickwork and sneaking the puck pass Rittich to win the game.
Check out how the game went in data visualisations, all below.
All situations corsi
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