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Monday’s game seemed like a recipe for disaster for the Calgary Flames. They had lost five in a row, and four of their last five. They were facing the best team in hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs, in their barn. Oh, and star goalie Jacob Markstrom was a late scratch with an injury.

Despite all these negative factors, the Flames played one of their best games of the season. They beat the Leafs by a 3-0 score to get back to the .500 mark.

The rundown

The Flames looked good early, establishing a presence in Toronto’s zone and making some smart plays. They opened the scoring just shy of four minutes into the game. Rasmus Andersson’s shot was deflected by a Leaf and wobbled through Michael Hutchinson’s pads. Sam Bennett was right at the side of the net and poked in the loose puck to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.

Later on, the Leafs pressed and David Rittich made a gorgeous save, sweeping a trickling puck away from the goal line with his paddle. Shots were 14-9 Flames and scoring chances 8-4 Flames in the first period.

The Flames cashed in on the power play midway through the second period, but was not without dramatics. The Leafs got a pair of big odd-man rushes shorthanded, but Rittich made a couple big saves. Following those saves (by Dave), Mark Giordano’s point shot was deflected by Matthew Tkachuk past Hutchinson and gave the Flames a 2-0 lead.

The Flames took a pair of overlapping penalties later on, giving Toronto’s potent PP a two-man advantage for 1:36. The Flames held them to just two shots (and zero goals).

Shots were 17-11 Maple Leafs and scoring chances 6-4 Maple Leafs in the second period.

The Flames played smart hockey in the third period. On a power play midway through the period, they moved the puck well and Sean Monahan jumped on a Tkachuk rebound and beat Hutchinson to give the visitors in red and white a 3-0 lead.

The Flames held on for the win. Shots were 8-7 Maple Leafs and scoring chances 9-1 Maple Leafs in the third period.

Why the Flames won

Well, they just played a pretty complete game. Perfect? Nope. But pretty complete. They out-scored the Leafs at even strength and avoided giving up a zillion good chances (unlike their loss to Edmonton). Their power play cashed in a couple times. Their penalty kill was perfect on seven kills. Their goaltending was good.

They could’ve standed to avoid taking so many penalties, but ultimately that’s a nitpick on a damn good night for the Flames.

Red Warrior

Coming in on short notice with Jacob Markstrom out, Rittich was simply excellent.

Several other Flames had good nights, too. It was a very solid team win.

The turning point

There are a few contenders, but the Flames killing off a lengthy five-on-three Leafs power play was huge. Not only did they kill it, but they did a great job keeping the Leafs contained to the outside and making life easy for Rittich by keeping lanes clear.

The numbers

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.

Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Face-Off%
Game
Score
Monahan 55.6 87.5 2.270
Bennett 54.6 100 1.980
Gaudreau 48.5 87.5 1.190
Lucic 46.7 42.9 0.200
Tanev 45.2 45.5 0.210
Hanifin 42.5 42.9 -0.200
Dube 40.0 42.9 0.000
Backlund 40.0 42.9 0.220
Valimaki 38.5 100 -0.200
Andersson 37.0 41.7 1.550
Giordano 36.0 54.6 1.040
Kylington 35.0 100 -0.600
Mangiapane 33.3 27.3 -0.420
Leivo 30.0 n/a -0.460
Tkachuk 29.2 25.0 1.450
Gawdin 28.6 n/a -0.360
Nordstrom 28.6 n/a -0.350
Lindholm 24.1 27.3 -0.240
Rittich 3.530
Zagidulin

This and that

This was Oliver Kylington’s first NHL game this season (and first in 365 days). Artyom Zagidulin dressed for his first career NHL game as Rittich’s backup in Markstrom’s absence.

Tkachuk’s goal was the 100th of his young NHL career.

Up next

The Flames (9-9-1) are back in action on Wednesday for a rematch with the Maple Leafs in Toronto.


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