Game Takes: Penguins 2 Flames 1 (SO)

November 23rd, 2022 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames haven’t had their goaltender steal a lot of points this season, but that’s exactly what we saw from Dan Vladar tonight in turning aside 38 shots in a 2-1 shoot out loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

With American Thanksgiving tomorrow, Vladar and the Flames secured a playoff spot at the fictional hurdle and moved their road trip record to 2-1-1 with dates in Washington and Carolina to come before heading home Saturday evening.

The Penguins scored twice in the first period, but had the second one called back as an offside, and from there Dan Vladar was almost unbeatable for the Flames in his 4th start of the season.

With back to backs coming up you’d have to think he’ll get another look.

The Lineup

No change to the skaters tonight as the Flames go with the same group we saw in their win in Philly.

Up front it’s Elias Lindholm with Adam Ruzicka and Tyler Toffoli, Nazem Kadri with Dillon Dube and Andrew Mangiapane, Mikael Backlund with Jonathan Huberdeau and Blake Coleman, and Kevin Rooney between Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis.

On the blueline no change as well; Noah Hanifin with Rasmus Andersson, Nikita Zadorov with Mackenzie Weegar, and Dennis Gilbert with Chris Tanev.

Dan Vladar gets the start for the Flames ahead of Jacob Markstrom, his third of the season. And with a back to back to conclude this trip it certainly seems like he’ll get two of the six, which didn’t seem likely when Jacob Markstrom started the trip’s first three games.

Line Metrics 

Ruzicka – Lindholm – Toffoli 58.6%
Dube – Kadri – Mangiapane 50.6%
Huberdeau – Backlund – Coleman 72.6%
Lucic – Rooney – Lewis 71.5%

Hanifin – Andersson 48.9%
Zadorov – Weegar 57.1%
Gilbert – Tanev 59.5%

Goals Saved + Avg
Markstrom +0.5
Vladar -2.3

Trend Tracker:

Top five offensive forwards (xGF60) for the Calgary Flames through 18 games; Adam Ruzicka, Tyler Toffoli, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane and Nazem Kadri

Top five defensive forwards (xGA60) for the Calgary Flames through 18 games; Trevor Lewis, Mikael Backlund, Jonathan Huberdeau, Adam Ruzicka, Tyler Toffoli

Top two offensive defensemen (xGF60) for the Calgary Flames through 18 games; Chris Tanev, Michael Stone

Top two defensive defensemen (xGA60) for the Calgary Flames through 18 games; Mackenzie Weegar and Chris Tanev (omitted Dennis Gilbert with not enough ice time).

Sleepy Start

Whenever you see a pre game ceremony you just know one of the two teams is going to be flat as a pancake when they roll up the carpets and finally drop the puck.

Usually .. it’s the home side as they are invested in the ceremony.

Not so much tonight as the Flames don’t actually begin the game until the game is about eight minutes old and the Penguins are already up 1-0.

Could have been worse without the offside on the Penguin’s second goal.

Horn Guy

Enough already right?

Someone with an air horn that wants to be a part of the action (assume it’s an individual and not an arena plan), just couldn’t get enough of his horn in the first period.

Waaaah Waaaah Waaah … “lets go Pens!” … repeat … repeat.

Annoyed me anyway.

Seemed to slow down in the second period.

Flames Back in the 2nd

What a difference between period one and period two for the Flames.

From on your heels to on your toes.

From letting the game come to you to dictating the play.

Dan Vladar was solid when he needed to be, but the Flames were pushing the play most of the middle 20 and showing more of that consistent style we’ve seen much more lately.

Hanging On in the 3rd

Not the same in the third period for Calgary, as they leaned on their goaltender far too often, and had Mr. Vladar to thank for the point.

A breakaway for Jeff Carter, two point blank opportunities on turnovers, lucky to escape with their lives.

Pittsburgh creates offence, they’re going to come at you.

They did tonight, but Vladar was there to secure the point.

Vladar Start

Interesting start for Dan Vladar tonight.

Gives up a goal on his 2nd shot, likely a goal he’d like to have back.

Then gives up a goal on his fourth shot, one that wasn’t his fault at all, but hen has that one over turned on a play about 5 yards off side and uses that lift to put together a serious run of good goaltending.

As I said above, if it wasn’t for Dan Vladar this one doesn’t get to overtime.

Is that the first stolen point by a Flames goaltender this year?

I know Jacob Markstrom saved a win with some late saves, but has Calgary had their goaltender as a best player until tonight?

Not sure they have.

Dube Getting On A Roll?

His line had a rough night overall, but they did score the tying goal in the second period when Dillon Dube tipped in a Chris Tanev point shot getting the team a point.

Dube with goals in back to back games after being held scoreless for the previous 16 games after scoring on opening night.

He had a big surge last season in the second half and specifically the final quarter suggesting a 20 goal season was more than possible this season. Three in 19 is certainly better than 1 in 19 and maybe gets him back on track for that feat.

Big Z with Big Responsibility

Not a shock to see Mackenzie Weegar saddled with shutting down Sydney Crosby, but Nikita Zadorov?

Who had that on their bingo card coming into the season?

But the duo had 8+ minutes against Crosby tonight, with the top pairing having just 5 minutes against the Pittsburgh captain.

Zadorov has been a revelation this year. He’s moved up the roster giving the Flames essentially five top second pairing defensemen and a lot of options for Darryl Sutter; including deploying Chris Tanev on a third pair with Dennis Gilbert.

Imagine if Oliver Kylington was around?

Special Teams

Both teams go 0/3 in the game, but the Flames get the edge on the night for killing a Penguins penalty in overtime.

High danger chances were 3-1 for the Penguins.

Vladar the best penalty killer.

Standings and Record

Tomorrow of course, is the US Thanksgiving, a date that has become a white nuckler for playoff spots when the date comes and goes.

The Flames with a point tonight go into the break in the first wild card spot, with a 9-7-3 record good for 21 points in 19 games and a .553 win percentage.

They are 6th in the conference in win percentage, ahead of the Kings that have three more points but have played three more games.

Counting Stats

Shots: Flames 34 Penguins 39
Face Offs: Flames 46% / Penguins 54%
Powerplay: Flames 0-3 / Penguins 0-3

Fancy Stats

Another one of those games where the underlying stats completely match what you see when you watch the game. The Penguins were the better team, the Flames hung in but had their goaltender to thank for the point. Five on five the Flames had 48% of the shot attempts with period splits of 52%/53% and 37% respectively. In terms of five on five expected goals, the Flames had 42%, and for high danger scoring chances the Flames had 40%, with a 6-9 split.

In all situations the Flames had 46% of the shot attempts, 39% of the expected goals, and 33% of the high danger splits.

The right team won, as I said.

Individually the Flames were led by Trevor Lewis posting a xGF% of 70% on the night five on five. Milan Lucic was the next closest at 64%, Chris Tanev and Kevin Rooney were in the mid 50s. Five players were in the low 30s to bring up the rear; Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Nazem Kadri, Mikael Backlund and Nikita Zadorov.

The Other Side …

Danton Heinen and Brian Dumoulin were both in the 70s for the Penguins. Teddy Bleuger had a rough night at 17%.

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