Was very interested to see what the two teams would bring forth given what happened in Vancouver last night.
The Canucks, who chased the puck the whole night but found a way to win and the Flames, who dominated but came up empty. Do the Canucks sit on the two points and take the night off? Do the Flames find the energy to put the same push towards a win as they had the night before despite getting nothing for their efforts?
Both teams showed up, neither team looked tired, and the result was a highly entertaining tilt on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night, as the Flames rode a two goal first period to a 3-1 victory, gaining a split with the Canucks and moving closer to the rest of the Pacific Division.
Back to back nights, but instead of a plodding hockey game we get a frenetic first period from both clubs as they traded chances and went coast to coast on many occasion. Through the first ten minutes of play I felt the Flames had the majority of the play, but the Canucks had the better of the chances as the local side seemed to be going all in far too often and leaving themselves vulnerable to the counter attack. The Flames opened the scoring though when Sean Monahan wired one from the slot with Alex Chiasson tipping it past Jacob Markstrom. Just over a minute later the Flames were back when Garnet Hathaway outmuscled his way down the wall and centered the puck to Matt Stajan who directed the puck past Markstrom, 2-1 Flames after twenty minutes.
The second period started very poorly for the Flames, as the Canucks came out hard and pinned the locals in their own zone for the first four minutes and running up a 6-0 advantage in shots. The Canucks are rewarded when Bo Horvat walked out of the corner and beat Chad Johnson far side, the only goal he’d give up on the night. The Flames settled in from there and pushed the play back towards the Vancouver end of the ice and quelling what looked like a rough period ahead. No more scoring in the second, but both goaltenders made some big saves with the shots 13-10 Vancouver after the teams were even in shots at ten through the first.
In a game with two teams playing each other in back to backs you wonder which if any or both teams will run out of gas. In this one it was Vancouver that seemed to lose a little zip in the third as the Flames seemed to regain the play and take it to their visitors looking for that insurance goal. A late powerplay chance with five minutes to go, a minor to Kris Versteeg for hooking (think he only lifted a stick) created the drama and in it Chad Johnson was brilliant making several big saves to keep the game 2-1 Calgary. Just after the penalty the Flames ice things when Matthew Tkachuk finds Michael Frolik cross ice for a breakaway with the Czech beating Markstrom for his 10th of the season. Flames win it 3-1 and push the Canucks back to three points in their rear view mirrors.
First Period – Great period of action, shot attempts 20-16 Vancouver, scoring chances 7-5 for the Flames.
Second Period – Shot attempts 25-17 Vancouver, scoring chances 12-5 Vancouver, based largely on a great start from the visitors.
Third Period – Shot attempts 11-5 for the Flames, scoring chances 8-4 for Calgary.
Players – The Flames were led by Michael Frolik, Matthew Tkachuk and TJ Brodie in corsi stats, all finishing above 60% for the night. A consistent pattern for the Backlund line wingers, but another night of good results for Brodie who struggled to start the season. Backlund and Wideman were joined by the Monahan line (Gaudreau and Chiasson) as guys with good numbers on the night. Guys that struggled included Lance Bouma, Mark Giordano and Micheal Ferland who all posted numbers in the 20’s.
1. Chad Johnson:Stops 28 of 29 shots to regain the Calgary cage for the game in Winnipeg on Monday night.
2. Alex Chiasson:Seems to have found a home on that Gaudreau/Monahan line, his third straight solid game, picking up a goal in the first period.
3. Bo Horvat:Scored a goal and led his line which was the most effective for the Canucks on the night.
So many to choose from. Loved the Chad Johnson save on Jayson Megna in the second, his toe save on Brandon Sutter, his pad squeeze on Henrik Sedin in the second, but also have to mention the Dougie Hamilton diving body block on Megna halfway through the game.
Wasn’t really a goat game. I wondered about throwing the Sedin twins under the bus, but age is a bitch and it’s not fair to blame them for not being what they used to be, as it happens to athletes.
TJ Brodie again tonight. The guy has found it again. Led the Flames in ice time with almost 24 minutes, was a huge shot differential player once again, and was just dancing on his skates. The Flames are a much better team if TJ Brodie is TJ Brodie.
Odds and Ends
The Flames altered their lineup in a predictable fashion for the game, taking Tyler Wotherspoon out as he had a rough night in Vancouver last night for Jyrki Jokipakka. Up front they did the swap for the fourth line with Freddie Hamilton coming out for Garnet “I never lose” Hathaway. Additionally the obvious switch in goal with Chad Johnson coming back in for Brian Elliott who had both a rough and unlucky last night in Vancouver. … Speaking of Johnson, thought he was back to his streak consistency tonight, after a few rough games where he wasn’t that guy. Personally I think these things even out; he was somewhat lucky for a month in stopping everything through traffic seeing it or not and then had a tough two weeks where everything found a way to skid past him. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Either way, should be pretty obvious though that he gets the call on Monday night in Winnipeg. … Matthew Tkachuk should have extended his point streak in the third when he was set up in front of the net with a one timer. He did get on the board later though, his 9th straight game with a point, when he wided out Frolik for the clincher goal to put things away. Quite a feat for a rookie, especially a teen ager to have a streak like this, the kid just never fails to amaze. The shot attempts thing blows me away as well. A ten game stretch could see some good numbers, but the kid has just rolled through half an NHL season with shot attempts at 57%, you just don’t do that with numbers. Quite a find with the Flames pick in the most recent draft. Amazing. … Was good to see back to back games with Monahan and Gaudreau feeling it. They’re generating chances again, which is great to see as this team can’t rely on one line to win game in and game out.
The Flames travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets on Monday night, game time 6.00pm on Sportsnet.
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Ferland – Bennett – Versteeg
Gaudreau – Monahan – Chiasson
Hathaway – Stajan – Bouma
Giordano – Engelland
Brodie – Wideman