Given the opposition, the scenario and the time of year, you could be forgiven for expecting Thursday evening’s meeting between the Calgary Flames and the Minnesota Wild to be a snoozer. All due respect, but it’s Minnesota visiting on the second Thursday in January. But the Flames and Wild had an action-packed, end to end affair that wasn’t lacking in scoring chances. The goalies stood tall in a razor-thin 2-1 home victory for the Flames.
The Flames had a pretty good opening 20 minutes. They defended well. They created chances. And they cashed in on their power play of the period. With the Wild down a body due to a too many men call, Derek Ryan redirected a Noah Hanifin shot from the point past Alex Stalock to give the home side a 1-0 advantage.
The Wild had a couple good chances, but Cam Talbot was steady early – including a complete robbery in tight with his glove on poor Matt Dumba. Shots were 17-14 Flames and scoring chances 11-7 Flames in the opening period.
The visitors got on the board early in the second period. Just as Zac Rinaldo’s penalty (carried over from the end of the first period) expired, Alex Stalock took advantage as a mass line change to spring Mats Zuccarello in against Talbot. Zuccarello picked the top corner on Talbot to tie the game up at 1-1.
But the Flames responded midway through the second off the rush, as Johnny Gaudreau took a pass from Sean Monahan in his skates, booted it up to his stick and laid a quick, low shot past Alex Stalock to give the Flames a 2-1 lead.
Shots were 15-14 Wild and scoring chances 16-7 Wild in the second period.
The Wild pushed in the third period, but the Flames did a fine job defending and Talbot was calm, cool and collected. (And he got some help from his defenders and posts.) The Flames held on for a 2-1 victory. Shots were 14-6 Wild and chances 10-1 Wild in the third period.
Why the Flames Won
The recipe for a win these days: the Flames scored first, never trailed, and managed not to get too scrambly in their own end. They weren’t dominant, but in a game where the Wild were pressing (and chasing) for much of the game the Flames did a great job maintaining their composure and not getting too leaky in their own zone.
Talbot was superb in this one, so he easily gets the nod. But let’s also give a stick-tap to Gaudreau, who played his best game in awhile and was very noticeable.
The Turning Point
Let’s go with Gaudreau’s go-ahead goal. It allowed the Flames to head into the second intermission with a lead and likely fed into their confidence quite a bit.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and That
The Flames wore their sweet retro red jerseys. Through nine games in their retros, they’re 6-2-1.
(For comparison’s sake, they’re 0-0-1 in their white retros at home and 6-5-1 in their regular red jerseys.)
The Flames 14-1-1 when leading after two periods.
The Flames (24-17-5) are back in action on Saturday night. Their opposition? Connor McDavid and the hated Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. MT on Hockey Night in Canada.