The Calgary Flames were back in action against the Montreal Canadiens, the very team they’re chasing for the final playoff spot. While the Flames were definite sellers at the trade deadline with intentions to retool via the upcoming couple of drafts, the team on the ice is still fully engaged in fighting for a playoff berth. Their remaining games against Montreal are pivotal in every sense and so far, picking up a win at the first go around gives them some semblance of hope.
Despite playing just one night ago versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jacob Markstrom got the nod to start again. If that’s not a clear indication that the Flames haven’t given up yet, I don’t know what is. The odds are stacked against them still—and they run the risk of losing out on a better lottery odds—but they won’t be hanging up their skates until it’s a mathematical certainty that they’re eliminated.
The game started the right way for Calgary with Noah Hanifin opening the scoring just four minutes into the game. The Flames outpaced the Canadiens for most of the first period. Montreal had a better first three minutes, but Calgary took over, scored first, and carried a lot of momentum from a good first period right over to the second.
Just 29 seconds into the middle frame, Mark Giordano extended Calgary’s lead to two. It might have been the goal where a small glimmer of hope materialised into something a little bit more tangible for many Flames fans dreaming about Flames hockey come May, June, and maybe even beyond.
Midway through the period, former Flame Brett Kulak was active on a Montreal rush and cut into the Flames’ lead. After the goal from the Canadiens, the two teams played more or less even hockey for much of the final half of the game.
One thing worth noting though, is that Calgary was much more consistent at getting off better quality shots. Comparing the shot locations charts for both all situations and at 5v5, the Flames were getting in close against Jake Allen and made him work for his saves all night. Montreal on the other hand didn’t give Markstrom too hard a time, albeit Kulak’s goal did come from in close.
As the game was approaching its end, Josh Leivo picked up his fifth goal of the season to put Calgary back up by two, and Sean Monahan sealed the win with an empty net goal. The Flames are now four points back of the Canadiens, and Montreal has three games in hand. Just over a month ago, Calgary’s games versus Montreal were already critical for their season outcome, but now the final four games against one another mean that much more.
The data visualisations for the game are below.
All situations corsi
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