The Calgary Flames embarked on their first multi-game road trip of the season with a five-game leg in the Eastern Conference. It is very strange to think about playing a team outside of Calgary’s division. In their sole game against an Atlantic Division this trip, they faced off against the Detroit Red Wings.
The first period opened with a fight between Milan Lucic and Givani Smith a mere two minutes into the game. Fight aside, the Red Wings seemingly had more momentum to start the game, but Jacob Markstrom was up to the task and kept the game scoreless. The momentum quickly shifted towards the Flames. As the period got going, the Flames became more tenacious on the puck and it led to them earning the first goal of the game just past the midway point.
Erik Gudbranson shot the puck towards the net which redirected behind the net to the left of Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. Right where he needed to be, Johnny Gaudreau picked the puck up, skated behind the net, and found a perfect passing lane in the slot. Elias Lindholm was driving towards the net and got a one-timer off that beat the Red Wings’ netminder to mark his third goal in as many games.
A few minutes later, the Flames doubled their lead. Transitioning out of their own zone, Dillon Dube muscled his way through the neutral zone and lured four Red Wings onto him. Gudbranson entered the zone, received the pass from Dube, and got a shot off that wasn’t controlled by Nedeljkovic. With the puck loose and lost among skates in front of the crease, Andrew Mangiapane picked it up and neatly backhanded it into the net for the Flames’ first 2–0 lead of the season.
In case it needs to be pointed out: yes, Gudbranson racked up two assists in the first period.
The second period was not exactly pretty for the Flames. Essentially, they turned their focus on killing the clock and not so much on generating scoring chances. The entire middle frame was controlled by the Red Wings in terms of shot attempts and scoring chances. As per NaturalStatTrick, the Flames had a second period 5v5 score-and-venue-adjusted expected goals for of just 13.1%. Thirteen! Percent! The Flames managed to escape the period, fortunately giving up no goals to maintain the two-goal lead.
While it isn’t exactly an ideal way to play hockey, the outcome after forty minutes was desirable for Calgary.
In the third period, the Flames were a lot better at limiting Detroit’s chances and were able to turn more of the pressure back in their favour. It was a welcomed sight to see the Flames activate offensively instead of being entirely defensive minded. Towards the end of the period with the Red Wings’ net empty, Matthew Tkachuk sent the puck into the net from the Flames’ zone for his first goal of the season.
Despite the second period where they were caved in, the Flames actually did a decent job at preventing the Red Wings from taking high-danger shots throughout the game. Most of Detroit’s shots were from bad angles or were far enough away that they didn’t challenge Markstrom too heavily. On the other end of the ice, the Flames had a good amount of shots right in front of Nedeljkovic—one of which was Mangiapane’s goal.
The Flames could not have started their five-game road trip any better with a 3–0 shutout as well as getting into the win column for the first time in 2021–22. Check out the game visualisations below!
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