Prior to the game, the Calgary Flames expected to play to clinch to be in control of their playoff destiny. However, they instead clinched a playoff spot hours before puck drop courtesy of a loss handed to the Vegas Golden Knights courtesy of the Edmonton Oilers. The Flames now turn their focus to clinching the Pacific Division and welcomed the struggling Arizona Coyotes to the Saddledome.
Struggling or not, the Coyotes opened the period with a goal on their first shot—a tip-in by Nick Ritchie, just 30 seconds into the game. Jacob Markstrom couldn’t really be faulted on the goal, but the Flames still starting Markstrom despite clinching their playoff spot seemed odd given their opponent was much weaker.
For much of the first period, the Coyotes were wearing down the Flames and held a strong edge on shot attempts, not to mention scoring the rare first goal against the Flames. However, just past the midpoint mark, the Flames turned on their jets and tilted the ice in their favour.
Despite finishing the period on a much better note than they started, they weren’t able to score on Harri Sateri—who was starting just his second game of the season after returning from the KHL.
All in all, it was an unfortunate start to their game but the Flames played well enough to prevent a bad start turning into worse.
Whatever momentum the Flames generated at the end of the period, it carried right over into the second. Mirroring the Coyote’s goal in the first, Dillon Dube scored just 38 seconds into the middle frame.
The Coyotes failed to get the puck out of the zone and turned it over to a circling Dube, who shot the puck between the post and Sateri’s blocker to tie the game up.
Exactly 38 seconds later, the Flames got their first lead. The Flames battled for the puck and it landed on Nikita Zadorov‘s stick. He found Andrew Mangiapane in the slot for an instant one-timer. Zadorov’s primary assist happened to fall right on his 27th birthday.
One minute and two seconds after that, Matthew Tkachuk extended the Flames’ lead on an insane behind-the-net, backhand feed from Johnny Gaudreau. It’d be Tkachuk’s 38th goal of the season to tie Elias Lindholm for the team lead.
53 seconds after that, Dube scored again—both of his goals unassisted and a direct result of him both being in the right place at the right time. His second goal came off of a turnover and he simply outmuscled the two defenders on him and tucked the puck past Sateri.
The Flames’ scoring flurry would stop there, but four goals spanning two minutes and 33 seconds to open the period was as good of a response as the Flames could have gotten after the intermission. The goal chased Sateri and in came Karel Vejmelka.
Calgary still pressed for more and had to tend to some penalty killing midway through the period, but with under five minutes to go, they added two more goals to pad their lead.
Blake Coleman potted his 15th goal of the season on a great zone entry by the Flames’ second line, as they took advantage of a bad Coyotes line change and exercised some precision passing to get Coleman a wide-open shot.
With just over one minute remaining in the second, Lindholm restored his team goal scoring lead to cap off a constant horn-sounding period period of six unanswered goals by the Flames.
When Eminem released Kamikaze in 2018, the opening track “The Ringer” was a lyrical onslaught on what he thought of the state of rap at the time. As the heavy-hitting song seemingly drew towards its conclusion, Eminem transitioned into an extra verse without taking so much of a breath, saying “I’m not done.”
The Flames might have played this song in the locker room during the second intermission—cause they definitely were not done either.
Less than three minutes into the third period, Gaudreau joined the scoring fray as the Flames’ power play expired. Before Jack McBain could get back into the play, Gaudreau was passed the puck and had a wide open look to take a half slap shot that went top shelf, far corner over Sateri’s glove side (who came back into the game to start the third).
Just past the five minute mark, not to be outdone by Lindholm, Tkachuk also scored his 39th goal of the season to re-tie his linemate for the team lead. Tkachuk fought for position in front the net and was able to redirect a centring feed from Lindholm with his skate. It was obviously a good goal and the review confirmed it.
The Flames’ first line wasn’t quite content yet, as they added another goal on a transition play. Tape-to-tape passing from the trio got the puck into the zone, and Lindholm drop a pass between his legs to Gaudreau. That single move created all the time and space Gaudreau needed to snipe his second of the game and the Flames’ ninth.
The crowded was fired up and cheers of “We want 10” echoed throughout the stands wave after wave (quite literally, as the Flames fanbase can’t stop doing the wave either).
However, the Flames couldn’t break into double-digit scoring, but they did make for an emphatic response after clinching their playoff spot, after being on the wrong end of a lopsided game against Vegas, and after starting this game itself off on the wrong foot too.
Check out the charts from the game below!
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