The Calgary Flames still hang on to their diminishing playoff hopes. Of course, management knew it was a season to sell but the coaches and players aren’t giving up until the last possible moment. However, they faced a big setback against the Montreal Canadiens that is going to take some wind out of their sails.
The Flames opened the game with a flurry of offence right off the bat but Jake Allen was sharp as he was throughout the whole game. As the period went on, both Allen and Jacob Markstrom were up to the task and kept the game at zeroes. Towards the end of the period, the teams went back and forth for stretches of play of relentless pressure on both sides of the ice, with Calgary putting up two solid efforts sandwiching Montreal’s.
In the second, the Canadiens broke the deadlock midway through the game as Tyler Toffoli had all the time and space he needed to pick the top corner to beat Markstrom cleanly. But that wasn’t exactly the worst part about the period. By the time the middle frame was over, the scoresheet had Montreal up by one goal, while the Flames had a couple of wide open nets and three shots that rang off the post from Rasmus Andersson, Johnny Gaudreau, and Matthew Tkachuk.
The Flames’ fate might have been different had a single one of those shots made it into the net, but to hit three posts in such quick succession that you couldn’t tell which echo belonged to which shot in the empty arena… that summed up the frustration that has persisted all season long.
In the third, the Flames managed to tie it up as Elias Lindholm didn’t give up on a fanned one-timer and instead backhanded the puck in from his knees with the second opportunity. The Flames desperately needed that goal to shake off a bit of the nerves that hitting three posts can bring to a team. However, towards the end of the game, Toffoli picked up the game-winning goal with his second of the night.
Calgary played a good game, and for the past few games they’ve played some of their better hockey under Darryl Sutter. Looking at shot locations, they’ve been more consistent at getting to high-danger areas and have made opposing goaltenders work that much harder compared to that first losing stretch with Sutter behind the bench.
Nevertheless, at the end of the night they were served a loss. In a game like this, they were tantalisingly close to having a better outcome, but goalposts were their enemy and they simply weren’t able to pick up any points against the team they absolutely needed to take two points from.
The data visualisations for the game are below.
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