The Calgary Flames hosted the Florida Panthers on Thursday evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It wasn’t a pretty game, as it was full of weird plays and a lot of neutral zone turnovers. But there certainly were a lot of goals. The Flames won 6-5 in a shootout after blowing a 4-2 third period lead.

The Rundown

The Flames did something rare in the first period: they got a lead. After Alexsander Barkov took an offensive zone penalty, the home side cashed in on the ensuing power play. With Rasmus Andersson driving the net and being held off by Aaron Ekblad, Austin Czarnik banked the puck in off Ekblad’s back skate to make it 1-0 Flames.

Shots were 8-5 Flames and scoring chances 6-4 Flames in a structurally sound opening period for the home side.

The second period featured a lot of goals relative to the number of shots on net. On a broken neutral zone play, the puck bounced into the Flames zone. Jonathan Huberdeau won the foot-race to the loose puck and rifled a shot over David Rittich’s shoulder to make it 1-1.

The Flames reinstated their lead a little while later off a nice series of plays. They won a defensive zone face-off and headed up the ice. Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk made a nifty little give-and-go passing play, allowing Frolik to spring Tkachuk in alone against Bobrovsky. He roofed it over the netminder to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.

But the Panthers tied it up, as they got some zone time and cycled the puck. Mackenzie Weegar’s point shot through a bit of traffic eluded Rittich to make it a 2-2 game.

Shots were 7-4 Panthers and chances 9-8 Panthers in the second period.

32 seconds into the third period, the Flames scored to take the lead. Mark Giordano broke up a Panthers rush and sent Frolik and Tkachuk in on a two-on-one. Frolik fed a pass between two defenders to Tkachuk for a tap-in to make it 3-2 Flames.

The Flames got a power play after Josh Brown put the puck over the glass. Their power play looked great but scored zero goals. But a couple shifts after the PP ended, the Flames cashed in. Giordano jumped into the rush and redirected an Elias Lindholm slap-pass through Bobrovsky’s legs to give the home side a 4-2 advantage.

But the Cats came back. Josh Brown cut the lead to 4-3 just 64 seconds later as he took advantage of a bunch of traffic in front of Rittich to beat him with a high wrister from the point. They tied it up at 4-4 off a neutral zone turnover that sent Huberdeau and Evgeni Dadonov in on a two-on-one – Dadonov tapped in Huberdeau’s slick pass.

The Panthers took the lead with five minutes left in regulation. The Flames lost a puck battle behind the net and Frank Vatrano fed Mark Pysyk at the top of the face-off circle. His shot trickled through Rittich’s five-hole to give the visitors a 5-4 lead.

But the Flames tied it up with a couple minutes left. Sam Bennett’s initial shot from the top of the circles hit Ekblad, but Bennett jumped on the loose puck and put it over Bobrovsky’s shoulder to tie it at 5-5.

Shots were 9-8 Flames in the third period, while chances were 11-4 Panthers.

So it went to overtime! The Flames had a few nice chances and even generated a power play with 31 seconds left but they couldn’t bury anything. So it went to a shootout! Sean Monahan and Tkachuk scored in the shootout to give the Flames a 6-5 victory.

Why the Flames Won

Honestly, this was the 2019-20 Flames encapsulated in a single game. Generally structurally sound hockey and a fair amount of goals, but their puck management, attention to detail, and play in the neutral zone still needs a good amount of work.

Red Warrior

We give him a ton of grief for all the penalties he takes – and that grief is warranted – but Frolik was superb in this one, particularly with his deft passing on both Tkachuk goals.

The Turning Point

This game had a ton of swings in it. The Flames didn’t trail until the Panthers scored with five minutes left – the third goal in a row Florida scored to answer Calgary’s 4-2 edge. Rather than fold up, the Flames kept pressing. Bennett’s goal ensured that the Flames would at least get a point from a pretty good, albeit uneven, effort.

The Numbers

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

Hanifin 66.7 33.3 1.150
Lindholm 65.2 80.0 1.510
Hamonic 64.0 40.0 0.350
Gaudreau 58.6 80.0 0.325
Ryan 57.9 0.0 0.350
Frolik 57.9 14.3 1.325
Tkachuk 55.6 12.5 1.725
Bennett 52.9 0.0 0.960
Monahan 52.2 80.0 1.265
Kylington 50.0 100 0.125
Backlund 47.8 12.5 -0.110
Mangiapane 46.7 0.0 0.925
Andersson 45.0 100 -0.100
Brodie 44.4 13.3 0.950
Giordano 40.0 12.5 1.075
Czarnik 16.7 16.7 0.550
Lucic 14.3 16.7 -0.325
Jankowski 12.5 14.3 -0.490
Rittich -1.950

This and That

Riley Stillman suited up for the Panthers in his second career NHL game. His father, Cory, played seven seasons for the Flames (before being traded for Craig Conroy). The younger Stillman fought Travis Hamonic in the first period.

Rittich had a weird game. He took a puck off the mask in the first and was checked on by the referee to make sure he was okay, and later had Keith Yandle fall on him. In the second period, he tripped and fell – over seemingly nothing – behind his net while playing the puck.

Up Next

The Flames (6-5-1) are off to experience scenic Regina. They have a late practice outdoors tomorrow and then suit up in the 2019 Heritage Classic on Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

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