Looking to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since the calendar changed over to 2022, the Calgary Flames were visitors in Columbus for the first time since November 2019. With an all-time dominant performance over the St. Louis Blues two nights prior, Calgary went into the game trying to build upon the momentum they had built. And boy did they ever.
Things got off to a good start for the Flames, as the opening minutes of the period immediately saw the Flames gaining the zone and putting pressure on Columbus early.
They were promptly rewarded as Mikael Backlund scored just over four minutes into the game. A turnover by Columbus at the Flames’ blue led was picked up by Backlund. Skating into the Blue Jackets’ zone, Backlund elected to take a quick slap shot that beat Elvis Merzlikins, going under his glove.
A candidate for misplays of the night happened shortly after as Jacob Markstrom skated well out of his crease to poke check the puck but instead tripped Jakub Voracek. Nevertheless, the Flames penalty kill was up to the task and maintained their 1–0 lead.
As they did against the Blues, the Flames were also all-around dominant throughout the whole period. The first period ended with a one-goal difference, but really the Flames would be unlucky to only score one in the opening 20 minutes.
The second period was more or less the same for the Flames. They continued to maintain pressure and were able to draw two consecutive penalties. Unfortunately, the 5v3 power play was fruitless as Columbus was able to kill off both penalties.
As the period went on, the Flames were once again relentless on the puck. And as far as goaltending goes, Merzlikins deserves a lot of credit for keeping his team in the game. Plenty of chances were stopped by the goaltender for Columbus, and it was starting to look like the Flames ran into yet another dialed in goalie.
However, as the time left in the period waned, the Flames finally broke loose. First, Andrew Mangiapane scored his 19th goal of the season—also his 18th road goal of the season—on a potential high stick tip. The call on the ice stood after review and the Flames finally doubled their lead. The goal would be Mangiapane’s 100th career point.
Late in the second period with just seconds remaining, Matthew Tkachuk received a pass from Johnny Gaudreau from the Flames’ blue line, and a smooth entry into the zone with patience by Tkachuk led to a perfectly placed shot to put the Flames up 3–0.
Shots were 40–17 after two. Rather than going into the third period with a single-goal lead, the Flames were able to pad their goals and be a lot more comfortable for the final 20 minutes of play.
The third period opened with another Flames goal just 30 seconds in, this time from Elias Lindholm. The play started with a gargantuan effort by Gaudreau to transition from the Flames’ zone into Columbus’ and he was able to split all Columbus players to get a shot on net. The rebound was right their for Lindholm to clean up for his 400th career point. A couple of Flames hit nice milestones in the game.
Shortly after, the Flames scored their fifth goal of the game. Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Erik Gudbranson was quick to shoot the puck through traffic and earned his first goal of the season.
Just a minute later, Gaudreau connected with Tkachuk once again for Tkachuk’s 20th goal of the season and the Flames’ sixth goal of the night. More amazingly, that goal marked Calgary’s 13th goal over their past two games, as well as their 100th shot in the same time frame. That’s right. Through the two games versus St. Louis and Columbus, the Flames tallied a total of 110 shots on goal.
As the period went on, the Flames couldn’t score again, but that wouldn’t stop them from shooting. They kept up the offence and eventually set a brand new franchise record for shots in a single game. Their previous mark was 59 shots, accomplished twice—the first in 1977, the second in 1991. In this game, they peppered Columbus with 62 total shots.
By the game’s end, the Flames made Columbus look like a junior team. Columbus’ best player was Merzlikins, who walks away with six goals against yet a save percentage north of .900.
On the other end of the rink, Markstrom picked up his league-leading sixth shutout of the season. He earned it too as on the limited chances the Blue Jackets put up, some were strong chances that Markstrom readily handled.
What a couple of shows the Flames have put on in their past two games. Charts against Columbus are all below, check them out!
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