The Ducks are an experienced team. They know what it takes to win, they’ve been their to see both success and failure in the past decade of NHL seasons.
Their last time in Calgary was a rather embarrassing defeat where backup goaltender Johnathan Bernier had to stand in and face the onslaught with starter John Gibson unable to help out with digestion issues on the bench. Tonight the visiting Ducks were very much up for the challenge as the 8-3 loss in Calgary was the perfect motivation to play a perfect, patient, road game to the tune of a 3-1 victory on Saddledome ice.
The Flames played well, but were victim of the evening of the hockey gods after getting many a bounce in Denver on Tuesday night; things have a way of evening out, often quite quickly.
A great first period by the Flames as they really took it to the visiting Ducks. The Flames held a 13-7 shots advantage and carried the play for the most part, opening the scoring when Matthew Tkachuk found Mikael Backlund split the defense (as much as a defenseman as Ryan Getzlaf could possibly be) and going five hole on John Gibson to make it 1-0 Flames. They had other chances, and the majority of the play but the game stays 1-0 through two periods.
The second period was a split affair with the Ducks dominating the first half of the 20 minutes, and tying the game up when Antoine Vermette steers the puck into an empty cage with Cory Perry running partial goalie interference, a play that was challenged but denied after a lengthy review. Calgary gets off their heels and starts apply pressure themselves, but can’t solve Gibson over the final ten minutes of the period including a two on zero breakaway between Alex Chiasson and Sam Bennett that results in neither a scoring chance or a shot on goal; 1-1 after two.
The third period was very much up for grabs, and it’s the Ducks that step up and settle things when Jacob Silferberg beats Chad Johnson over his right shoulder to make it 2-1 Ducks, changing the game on a single shot. The Ducks double their lead when Vermette gets in the way of Chad Johnson, a play that might have been reviewed had the Flames not already used up their challenge, Rickard Rackell doing the honors to put the game out of reach. The Flames go back on the powerplay themselves but can’t solve Gibson as they fall 3-1 to the Ducks on Thursday night.
First Period – The Flames had the play and the shots on goal, but shot attempts read 16-15 for the Ducks through 20 minutes, scoring chances at 9-6 Calgary.
Second Period – Ducks had the play in the second period with shot attempts 10-5 Ducks, scoring chances 7-2 Anaheim.
Third Period – The third saw the Ducks up 9-6 in shot attempts but trailing 5-4 in scoring chances despite scoring the period’s only two goals.
Players – Calgary’s corsi darlings were just that again as the Backlund line dominated with all three forward in and around the 70% mark. The top pairing of Mark Giordano and Derryk Engelland were both above the 50% mark as well. At the bottom of the totem poll was the top line as Sean Monahan, Kris Versteeg and Micheal Ferland averaged under 25% on the night.
1. Ryan Kesler:It pains me to say it, but the annoying wank was money in picking up two assists and playing a borderline prison yard game all night.
2. John Gibson:A difference maker in stopping 31 of 32 shots put his way and giving his team a chance to win.
3. Mikael Backlund:Scores the team’s only goal and was his usual effective two way self all night.
Gibson made more saves, but the toughest ones were aimed at Chad Johnson. His save on a Kesler redirection just after the Ducks make it 2-1 was a huge save both in technique and timing given the score and time left in the third period.
Not a real “goat game” as it turned out. Thought Giordano was getting fitted for the horns when he turned the puck over creating a breakaway with the game tied in the third period, but a stellar Chad Johnson save put that on hold.
Another great game from rookie Matthew Tkachuk. He plays with so much poise, it’s unreal the kid is only 19 (and just). His pass to Backlund on the Calgary goal was big league, but there were three other zone entries on the night from the rook that were standout plays.
Odds and Ends
The Flames still have Troy Brouwer out with a hand injury. Additionally they flipped goaltenders despite Elliott’s three straight wins, going back to Chad Johnson against the Ducks tonight. Dougie Hamilton pulled up lame with the flu bug meaning the Flames had to promote Derryk Engelland to the top pairing and dress both Jyrki Jokipakka and Tyler Wotherspoon as a third pairing. … How did it work? The Giordano/Engelland pairing were actually quite stellar while the third pairing actually out played the TJ Brodie/Dennis Wideman pairing at least as far as corsi stats went. … Matthew Tkachuk’s assist extended his point streak to a career high 5 games. Given the fact the new year is around the corner, I’m guessing this kid isn’t going away. You see guys like Dubois and Alex Nylander in the World Junior tournament and drool, but I’d imagine Tkachuk would be putting up some pretty good numbers as well if he was dressed for team USA. … Speaking of the World Juniors, I’ve just loved Dube’s play for Canada. Not the flashiest player on their team but he seems to be a mix of Backlund/Frolik in his mix of awareness and puck skill. Looking forward to watching him progress both in this tournmanet and after as he pushed his way towards the Flames. Quite the draft to have Tkachuk on the Flames roster, Dube playing for Canada and Fox and Parsons both suiting up for the Americans.
The Flames host the Arizona Coyotes on New Years Eve at the Saddledome. Game time 7pm on Sportnet.
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Ferland – Monahan – Versteeg
Gaudreau – Bennett – Chiasson
Hathaway – Stajan – Bouma
Giordano – Engelland
Brodie – Wideman
Wotherspoon – Wotherspoon