The Calgary Flames didn’t play a perfect hockey game on Wednesday night when they visited the Buffalo Sabres. But they got a strong performance from their goaltender and despite being out-played for a good chunk of the game, they put themselves in a situation to grab a win. The Flames eked out a 3-2 overtime victory.

The Rundown

The first period was fairly even, though Buffalo generated a few really good scoring chances. Late in the period the Flames hit the scoresheet, as a TJ Brodie wrist shot wobbled in from the point and beat Linus Ullmark between the wickets to give them Flames a 1-0 lead.

Shots were 9-8 Sabres and scoring chances 10-4 Sabres in the opening period.

Buffalo evened things up shorthanded in the second period. Elias Lindholm couldn’t execute on an outlet pass on the power play, as it was intercepted by Rasmus Asplund and he sprang Jimmy Vesey for a breakaway. He beat Rittich to make it a 1-1 hockey game.

Shots were 10-8 Sabres and scoring chances 8-4 Flames in the second period.

The Sabres took a lead early in the third period off a breakout and some nice passing that left the Flames chasing a bit. Jacob Olofsson’s wrister from the wing clanged in off the far post to give the home side a 2-1 lead.

But the Flames rallied back a couple minutes later. Some nice cycling in the offensive zone by a reunited 3M Line led to a couple scoring chances, a couple rebounds, and the tying goal. Both Michael Frolik and Mikael Backlund had initial shots that bounced back out, eventually leading to Matthew Tkachuk sneaking in from behind the net to bury the second rebound to tie the game at 2-2.

Shots were 16-12 Sabres and scoring chances 12-9 Sabres in the third period.

Off to overtime this game went. Both teams had some nice chances, but Tkachuk fed Lindholm behind the net and Lindholm managed to score on a back-handed wrap-around shot to give the Flames a 3-2 victory.

Why the Flames Won

Well, the Flames were out-played in this one. Let’s call a spade a spade. A decimated Sabres squad generated more shots (36-29) and scoring chances (26-21) than the Flames. But Calgary got superior goaltending from Rittich and managed to make their high danger chances count.

It was not a perfect 60 minutes of hockey, but it was just good enough to beat the team in front of them and hopefully it’s something they can build upon.

Red Warrior

This will sound fairly standard, but Rittich was the Flames’ most consistently good player and difference-maker in this hockey game.

Also: stick-taps to Brodie and Tkachuk for multi-point games.

The Turning Point

The Flames had several games get away from them off early goals against in periods, so it was heartening to see the 3M Line respond just over two minutes after Buffalo took their lead. The Sabres never had a chance to really use the momentum of the go-ahead goal to pull away.

The Numbers

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

Giordano 56.8 47.1 1.475
Gaudreau 52.9 58.8 0.200
Brodie 52.5 47.1 1.725
Frolik 52.4 20.0 0.750
Lindholm 50.0 58.8 1.060
Ryan 48.0 28.6 0.435
Lucic 48.0 25.0 0.150
Dube 47.8 40.0 -0.125
Andersson 45.2 46.7 0.025
Monahan 45.0 50.0 0.500
Tkachuk 44.7 62.5 1.550
Backlund 44.7 62.5 0.875
Hanifin 42.1 47.1 -0.025
Mangiapane 38.7 62.5 0.000
Jankowski 38.5 25.0 -0.035
Rieder 33.3 25.0 -0.185
Kylington 31.6 66.7 -0.500
Stone 30.8 60.0 -0.550
Rittich 1.900

This and That

The Flames led for a grand total of 8:37, twice as long as they led against Pittsburgh on Monday night. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Up Next

The Flames (12-12-4) fly home tonight. They’re off tomorrow and prepare to host the Ottawa Senators in a rare early 5 p.m. Saturday game on Hockey Night in Canada.

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