With the Pacific Division crown still to play for, the Calgary Flames embarked on a quick road back-to-back set against the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. The Flames visited the United Center for the last time this season, having already won in their first visit, and were looking to sweep the season series.
In Calgary’s previous game, they let in a goal early in the first. This time around, they were on the goal scoring side of that equation. Just 22 seconds into the game, Dillon Dube deflected a far shot from Noah Hanifin and the puck just trickled into the open net, going past Kevin Lankinen for the game’s first goal.
Dube’s now up to four goals in his last three games. It’s nice to see pucks finally going in for the forward.
Shortly after that the Flames doubled their lead. Receiving a pass from Matthew Tkachuk from behind the goal line, Johnny Gaudreau held onto the puck for eight seconds, skating a lap around the offensive zone before drawing towards the net to take a far-side shot going above Lankinen’s blocker side.
It was one of the most surreal goal of possibly Gaudreau’s career, as time seemingly slowed down as Gaudreau had the puck on a string and went unchecked for the incredible snipe.
The goal also marked Gaudreau’s 600th career point. It was the exact type of goal that has described the season Gaudreau has had. He creates his own time and space, and he capitalises on it.
However, right after that, Tyler Johnson scored for the Blackhawks to draw the home team back within a goal.
Before the period was over, Blake Coleman restored the two-goal lead by tipping Oliver Kylington‘s shot. Like Dube, Coleman is on a bit of a hot streak himself, scoring three goals over five games.
The second was less eventful, featuring just one goal from the Blackhawks. It was Alec Regula‘s first NHL goal, making it the umpteenth time this season that the Flames have allowed a player to score their first career goal against them.
Calgary put together a fairly strong period, but credit is due to the Blackhawks, they kept themselves in the game and created scoring chances in their favour. However, Jacob was Markstrom in his 61st start this season—which marks a new career-high for him.
Incredibly, he’s faced over 200 fewer shots in the same number of starts compared to the last time he started 60 back in 2018–19 with the Vancouver Canucks—the Flames’ system really is that good.
The Flames took their foot off the pedal a little bit in the third. They gave up a few more opportunities than they would have liked, and weren’t able to score another goal to pad their lead.
However, with the game drawing towards its conclusion and the Chicago net empty, the Flames potted two empty-net goals—the first from Gaudreau, the second from Kylington—to seal the game.
Turning to upcoming milestones, Tkachuk now sits at 98 points on the season with his two assists from the game. The Flames inch closer to clinching the Pacific with the two points, as their magic number is now down to 1.5, as the Edmonton Oilers can’t catch the Flames with the tie-break as per Pat Steinberg. The Flames sweep the season series against the Blackhawks with the win.
Check out the charts from the game below!
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Check out our tutorial on how to plot an NHL rink using R with the full code and customisation options included!
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