The Calgary Flames have gotten a little bit better in each of their past few games. While they weren’t perfect on Thursday night, they were easily the better team at the Scotiabank Saddledome in a pretty decisive 5-1 victory over the visiting Detroit Red Wings.

The Rundown

The two clubs exchanged good scoring chances early, with Jimmy Howard making big saves early on Sam Bennett and Andrew Mangiapane and David Rittich stopping Andreas Athanasiou on a partial breakaway.

The Flames had a lot of pressure and finally cashed in midway through the first period. Andrew Mangiapane deflected Mark GIordano’s point shot past Howard to make it 1-0 Flames.

Shots were 10-5 Flames in the first, but scoring chances were 8-6 Red Wings.

The Flames added to their lead in the second period off a nice sequence from their power play. After some sustained pressure, Matthew Tkachuk whiffed on a wrist shot attempt from the high slot. But his shot attempt deflected the puck across the slot to Elias Lindholm, who deposited the loose puck into the net to make it 2-0 Flames.

But the two goal cushion lasted just 28 seconds, as Anthony Mantha had a breakaway chance. He was stopped, but the puck squirted between Rittich’s pads and Darren Helm, the trailer on the play, poked it into the net to cut the lead to 2-1.

Shots were 13-7 Red Wings in the second period and scoring chances were 8-7 Red Wings.

You’ll never believe it, but Milan Lucic got his first point as a member of the Flames early in the third period. Off a dump-in, Lucic crashed and banged behind the net, separating Alex Biega from the puck. A quick pass to Sam Bennett at the side of the net later and it was 3-1 Flames.

The Flames lead increased to 4-1 soon after off another nice play by Lucic and some chaos in front of Howard. Lucic chipped the puck on net and after several players took a whack at it, a whack from a Red Wings defender put it into the net. Whoops. Derek Ryan touched the puck last for the Flames and got credit for the goal.

The Flames drew a major penalty off a pair of fairly rough-looking plays. Lindholm got his elbow up on some contact in the defensive zone, drawing the ire of Helm. Helm proceeded to give Lindholm a pretty vicious slash to the back of his leg and was given a major and a game misconduct. (Lindholm was given a minor for his transgression.)

On the resultant Flames power play, Giordano hammered a point shot past Howard to make it 5-1 Flames, and that’s how it ended. Shots were 19-10 Flames and chances 12-5 Flames in the third period.

Why the Flames Won

The Flames are a deeper team than Detroit, but what set them apart for much of this game was their ability to (mostly) stick to structure in their game. They had more structured five-man units – especially in their breakouts – than they’ve had all season, and it really helped them early on when Detroit tried to generate offensive pressure.

Beyond that, the Flames managed to take advantage of their offensive opportunities and Rittich made the saves you would expect Rittich to make (and a few that you might not).

Red Warrior

Tkachuk had an assist, but he also drew three power plays on his own. He was engaged and a menace in all three zones.

The Turning Point

The Flames had energy and momentum throughout this game, but Mangiapane’s early goal set the tone for the game. Detroit never really seemed in the fabric of things from that point on.

The Numbers

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

Jankowski 88.9 66.7 0.370
Giordano 66.7 50.0 2.650
Brodie 66.7 50.0 0.950
Lucic 65.5 57.1 1.800
Tkachuk 60.7 57.1 1.675
Ryan 59.4 42.9 2.400
Backlund 57.9 57.1 0.320
Bennett 56.8 42.9 1.800
Frolik 55.9 57.1 0.040
Hanifin 53.7 66.7 0.250
Hamonic 52.5 66.7 0.100
Czarnik 50.0 50.0 0.150
Gaudreau 50.0 33.3 0.225
Andersson 47.6 50.0 0.200
Mangiapane 42.9 50.0 0.750
Lindholm 40.0 100 0.645
Monahan 40.0 50.0 1.145
Kylington 35.0 50.0 -0.225
Rittich 1.950

This and That

Mangiapane took a tumble into the boards late in the second period.

He left the game and didn’t return. Lindholm left the game after the slash from Helm in the third period and also didn’t return. The Flames finished the third period with just 10 forwards.

Up Next

The Flames (4-3-1) jet off to sunny Southern California tomorrow. They play Los Angeles on Saturday and Anaheim on Sunday.

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