The Calgary Flames played fairly well through two periods against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, but weren’t amazing. A three goal eruption in the opening three minutes of the third period was enough for them to grab hold of the game for good. They beat the visiting Leafs by a 4-2 score in the Saddledome to run their winning streak to seven games.

The Rundown

The first 20 minutes were pretty back and forth. But midway through the period, a defensive lapse and a nice pass put Toronto up 1-0. The Flames got hemmed in their own end a bit by the Mitch Marner line. After a near-miss scoring chance, Marner had the puck behind the net. He back-handed a pass to John Tavares at the far post for a top shelf shot to get the Leafs a 1-0 edge. (It was a superb pass, but Tavares was left all by his lonesome by the Flames’ coverage.)

But the Flames tied things up before the end of the period off the rush. The Leafs defended the initial three-on-three entry, but Travis Hamonic entered the zone as the late man, accepted a pass from Sean Monahan and beat Freddie Andersen up high to make it 1-1.

Shots were 10-9 Leafs and scoring chances 9-9 in the first period.

The second period was tilted towards the visitors, though the Flames defended reasonably well. But near the end of the period the Flames got caught on a bad line change. That allowed Marner and Tavares to take charge with a three-on-two rush, ending with Marner burying a Tavares feed to make it 2-1 Leafs.

Shots were 13-8 Leafs and scoring chances 14-9 Leafs in the second.

The Flames came into the third period wanting to scored to tie things up. Mission accomplished, early. And repeatedly.

After a dump-in off the opening faceoff, Andersen went to dump the puck out. It was held in along the side boards by Mikael Backlund, who fed the puck to Johnny Gaudreau in the high slot. His wrister beat Andersen to tie the game at 2-2 just 19 seconds into the period.

1:40 later, the Flames took the lead. Tobias Rieder caused a turnover in the neutral zone. Going in on a two-on-two with Michael Frolik, he pass to Frolik and his wrister beat Andersen glove-side to make it a 3-2 game in favour of the home side.

And 50 seconds later, Gaudreau went to the slot and redirected a Hamonic shot past Andersen to give the Flames a 4-2 advantage.

The Leafs pressed, particularly on a lengthy two man advantage, but the Flames held on for the win. Shots were 11-7 Leafs and scoring chances 8-8.

Why the Flames Won

This will sound pretty repetitive, but they bent but didn’t break. They were back on their heels at times against the Leafs, but they did a good job defending the high rent district and managed to make their trips to the high rent area count.

They got good goaltending, opportunistic scoring, and effective special teams. That’s usually a recipe for success.

Red Warrior

Let’s do a joint award: Rittich made 32 saves, many of them excellent, and Gaudreau scored twice.

The Turning Point

There were two, both in the third period. First: three goals in the opening 2:49 of the final frame swung the Flames to a two goal advantage. But they also gave Toronto a lengthy five-on-three power play and defended exceptionally well against a pretty scary offensive squad.

The Numbers

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

Jankowski 73.7 66.7 0.450
Frolik 73.7 66.7 1.425
Rieder 73.7 66.7 1.525
Mangiapane 63.3 40.0 0.750
Tkachuk 60.7 44.4 0.300
Lindholm 56.7 44.4 -0.080
Hamonic 56.4 14.3 2.075
Gaudreau 56.0 72.7 2.175
Giordano 55.3 66.7 1.575
Andersson 53.6 64.3 0.525
Hanifin 50.0 20.0 0.000
Monahan 50.0 63.6 1.935
Brodie 45.2 66.7 0.025
Backlund 42.3 63.6 0.850
Stone 41.9 83.3 -0.125
Lucic 32.0 60.0 -0.450
Ryan 28.0 60.0 -0.595
Dube 18.5 50.0 -1.000
Rittich 1.700

This and That

On Monday, Rittich’s win broke a tie between him and Mike Smith for wins as a Flame. Thursday’s win broke a tie between Rittch and Karri Ramo, and represents Rittich’s 50th victory as a Flame.

Up Next

The Flames (18-12-4) practice tomorrow. They’re back in action on Saturday afternoon when they face Dougie Hamilton and the Carolina Hurricanes at the ‘Dome.

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