The Calgary Flames did a terrible job taking care of business last week. As a result, they backed themselves into a corner that required a 3-0-0 record against the Montreal Canadiens in a mini series that began tonight. To have a shot at the playoffs, the Flames desperately needed to win.
They started off on the right foot, with Dillon Dube beating Jake Allen just over six minutes into the first period on a nice partial break. The Flames definitely showed up on time, outshooting and out chancing the Habs early. The Canadiens pushed back though.
Just over halfway through the first, Tyler Tofolli wristed his 23rd of the season past Jacob Markstrom to tie the game at one. Then, off a sneaky faceoff play, Joel Armia beat Markstrom short side to put the Habs up 2-1. The Flames didn’t disappear into the night after that goal, which was great to see. A tricky tip by Andrew Mangiapane on the powerplay evened the game at two with just 36 seconds left in the first period.
Most of the game’s scoring happened in the first. The Canadiens and Flames seem to be fairly evenly matched on paper, but the Flames were playing with an edge almost all night. Midway through the second, Mikael Backlund looked to score, but the tally was overturned off a coach’s challenge for goalie interference.
Heading into the third, it was tense. The Canadiens are undefeated when they score three goals in front of Jake Allen, and in a tight checking game, one bounce could settle it. Fortunately for the Flames, they kept their foot on the gas pedal and kept pushing until a signature set up from Johnny Gaudreau landed on Sean Monahan‘s stick to give the Flames the lead.
The Canadiens pushed back with their net empty late in the third, but it was too little too late. An Elias Lindholm empty netter sealed the deal in the final minute.
It was a solid game for the Flames. In a must-win game, they showed up with urgency, tenacity, and fire. They were driving play all night long and definitely deserved to win the game. They’ll need to do it again tomorrow night, but this was a positive step in the right direction. The playoff race is still on.
Game visualizations are all below.
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