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The Calgary Flames are in a stretch in their season where they need to play well and win games to have any shot at the post-season. They were consistently good and occasionally really impressive in a 4-2 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens in the first of three straight games between the two clubs.

The rundown

The Flames had a strong first period and opened the scoring off a nice sequence. Chris Tanev stood up at the blueline and prevented a Montreal zone exit. That led to a quick little passing sequence, which ended with Andrew Mangiapane finding Dillon Dube in front of the net and Dube burying the feed to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

Montreal tied the game a little bit later off a play where basically everybody wearing red were caught off-guard. Tyler Toffoli was allowed to walk into the Flames’ zone unencumbered and his low shot beat Jacob Markstrom stick-side to make it a 1-1 game.

The Habs took a lead a little bit later, as right off a face-off win Joel Armia fired a wrist shot through traffic and it beat Markstrom – who seemed like he didn’t even see the puck until it was behind him – and that gave Montreal a 2-1 advantage.

But the Flames drew a late power play and cashed in. Noah Hanifin fired a low shot that ramped off Mangiapane’s stick, blade angled in a set deflection play, and the puck beat Jake Allen high to tie the game at 2-2.

Shots were 13-7 Flames and scoring chances 15-6 Flames in the first period.

The Flames weren’t quite as good in the second period, but they had a bunch of good looks. Mangiapane set up Mikael Backlund for a great chance, then Mangiapane had some good chances with Derek Ryan and Matthew Tkachuk. Backlund scored after he bumped Allen to dislodge a puck that was wedged between Allen’s arm and his body, but it was challenged and overturned due to goaltender interference.

Shots were 8-5 Flames and scoring chances 7-2 Flames in the second period.

The Flames retook the lead in the third period. Off a nice little passing sequence, Johnny Gaudreau received a pass behind the Montreal net and found Sean Monahan alone in front for a quick pass-and-shoot that beat Allen and made it 3-2 Flames.

Montreal pressed late and pulled Allen for the extra attacker, but the Flames held on for the sorely-needed (regulation) victory. Elias Lindholm scored an empty-netter to make it a 4-2 final score.

Shots were 10-7 Flames and scoring chances 6-5 Flames in the third period.

Why the Flames won

The Flames just played a smart, structured hockey game. They didn’t over-commit offensively. They didn’t get too loose defensively. They generated a ton of chances. They buried enough of them to have a lead most of the time, and they trailed for a mere 60 seconds.

If they played this like more consistently in their previous 45 games, these Flames would have easily been a playoff team.

Red Warrior

Mangiapane. He had two points and was a constant source of momentum and chances for the Flames.

The turning point

The Flames seem to lose the script a bit when they have to chase for too long in games. So Mangiapane’s late goal in the first period was huge for them, as they didn’t open up their game too much in the second; being tied allowed them to just stick with their game plan.

The numbers

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

Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Face-Off%
Game
Score
Lucic 82.4 14.3 0.760
Backlund 76.2 25.0 1.010
Giordano 73.1 57.1 1.310
Ritchie 72.2 37.5 0.320
Tanev 71.4 53.3 1.670
Mangiapane 70.8 28.6 2.420
Ryan 70.6 66.7 1.800
Andersson 64.5 42.9 1.210
Valimaki 63.6 33.3 0.900
Gaudreau 63.0 53.3 0.750
Hanifin 61.5 42.9 1.540
Monahan 61.1 30.0 3.400
Nordstrom 57.1 50.0 1.540
Dube 56.0 37.5 2.100
Tkachuk 48.6 64.3 -0.220
Stone 47.6 25.0 -0.250
Lindholm 40.7 69.2 0.390
Nesterov 12.5 0.0 -0.320
Markstrom -0.700
Domingue

This and that

Josh Leivo was unavailable for the Flames in this game due to a positive COVID-19 test from Thursday’s testing. By all accounts the team’s Friday morning tests were fast-tracked and negative, so the game went ahead as planned.

With no Leivo, the Flames went with seven defensemen and 11 forwards for the first time this season.

Up next

The Flames (20-23-3) are back at it tomorrow night against Montreal! It’s the early game on Hockey Night in Canada, starting at 5 p.m. MT.


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