The game started off with Flames pressure, then the Lightning took over, then the Flames, then the Lightning... And on and on it went, throughout most of the first, with both teams getting good, clean chances. Tampa seemed to control the puck more often and have greater sustained pressure, but the Flames were the ones who came away with the lead in shots and shot attempts: 8-5 and 16-12.
Things got exciting with just under two minutes to go in the period. Mark Giordano had a huge hit on Nikita Kucherov, laying him out at centre ice. JT Brown took exception to this, and challenged Gio to a fight, which the Flames' captain gladly accepted. I get the point is to avenge his teammates' honour or whatever, but Brown didn't avenge much of anything, since Giordano kind of easily and quickly beat him.
Still, if I'm Tampa, I do that trade off every time. You sacrifice five minutes of Brown to make the Flames' best player unavailable for just as long? It's not even a question.
Fortunately for the Flames, the Lightning were unable to do anything when Giordano was sitting in the box... for 10 minutes. He and Brown had to sit for double the time because, similar to the first, there were just no whistles throughout the period, and no chance for them to get out. Clean, back and forth hockey, but with very few shots on net was the story throughout the first 30 minutes of the entire game.
And that's when the first powerplay of the game came in! With only (only!) 29:05 remaining in the game, Mike Blunden tripped Deryk Engelland while chasing him around the Flames' net. As was custom with this particular game, it took a while yet for the powerplay to actually start, as the Flames successfully played keepaway for a bit while trying to advance the puck.
Eventually, though, the Bolts were able to touch the puck, and out went the Flames' first powerplay unit, which now finally contains Johnny Gaudreau! The powerplay was spent with Flames players moving the puck, and Lightning players blocking it at every turn. Ondrej Palat went on a shorthanded break and Tyler Johnson nearly corralled the rebound, but Karri Ramo was sharp, and TJ Brodie retrieved the puck and singlehandedly advanced it back into the offensive zone. Giordano had an excellent shot attempt from the point, but Evgeni Nabokov had an even better glove save.
As the powerplay was ending, Mikael Backlund, Mason Raymond, and Josh Jooris nearly combined for a goal, but nobody was able to actually get a handle on the puck, and it slid harmlessly to the side. Despite the Flames managing three shots over the powerplay, it ended with the game still scoreless.
Ramo had an excellent glove save to match Nabokov's, as the game went back to its standard of play: back and forth, few shots, chances for each side. The Lightning seemed to really have something going in the game's final minute, but Brodie exists, and not only did he do a great job of completely disrupting their puck movement, but he also drew a penalty when Valtteri Filppula interfered with him with just 34 seconds to go in the frame.
The period ended with the Flames still leading in shots (15-12), but just behind in total attempts (29-30).
Starting the period on the powerplay worked out great for the Flames! Just as it was ending, the Flames broke into the offensive zone. Kris Russell to Gaudreau, and Gaudreau, drawing all the Lightning towards him, deftly slid the puck across to an easily open Dennis Wideman, who had no problem blasting it past Nabokov, finally putting the Flames up 1-0. Both Flames went crashing into the boards - Wideman partially on top of a Bolt - and Gaudreau had the worst of it, as he ended up limping to the dressing room. All was good, though, because he came back! (So did Matt Stajan, who briefly left after blocking a shot.)
The game continued par for the course, but with just under five minutes to go, a miscommunication from behind the Lightning net allowed Sean Monahan to grab the puck and pass it right up to Raymond, who was coming up through the slot. Sadly, Raymond hit the post... but it turned out okay, after all, because pretty much right after Steven Stamkos hit the post on the other end.
Then again, maybe it would've been nice if Raymond hadn't missed. With just 2:16 left in the game, Jonathan Drouin, with three Flames chasing him for some reason, passed the puck over to a wide open Jason Garrison. Garrison's hard shot from the point fluttered just past Ramo, and he was unable to react fast enough, as an uncovered Filppula darted in behind him to make sure it went in the net, tying the game at 1, and ultimately forcing overtime.
The Flames finished regulation leading in shots (21-19), but behind in total shot attempts (38-45).
The teams traded chances in overtime, but it was the Lightning who had the most dangerous ones:
- A giveaway resulted in a Stamkos and Drouin 2 on 0. Stamkos passed to Drouin, and Ramo was incredible in coming over to deny him his first NHL goal.
- Another giveaway resulted in a Tampa 2 on 1.
Flame of the game
With no disrespect to Ramo, I'm gonna go with probably the Flames' best offensive player on a slow night: Johnny Gaudreau. His assist was amazing, he's finally getting a regular shift now (15:19 - closer to the bottom of the spectrum, but with the way the minutes were spread out, not far from the top), and he's on the top powerplay unit. He really does look a whole lot better since coming back from being healthy scratched. Really disappointing to not see him in OT, though, but he's turning a corner.
- Wideman scored all of four goals last season in a pretty poor outing. He's now scored three in his last four games. He's firmly planted himself back in the top four, and hey, if this keeps up, maybe there'll be a taker later in the season (with the Flames almost certainly retaining salary, but it's not like they can't afford it). He certainly hasn't been healthy scratch worthy, though.
- I really like Paul Byron? Anyone else? Lowest zone starts on the team, over 50% CF. He doesn't really make mistakes on the ice, he drives possession, and he's fast. He's the perfect complimentary player, and he probably doesn't get enough credit for it. He was especially great in OT.
- Brodie once again led everyone in ice time: 25:50. He was, unfortunately, on the ice for both goals against, although neither was necessarily his fault (being so close to the OT winner, though... ugh). Dude blocked five shots, too.
- Giordano's ice time was down mostly because of that fight and how long it took them to get back on the ice after, but he still managed over 20 minutes. And a team-high four shots.
- Joe Colborne was most commonly sent out to combat Stamkos. Stamkos did better when Colborne was on the ice as opposed to when he wasn't.
- The fourth line had a pretty good possession game? The minutes were a bit more evenly spread out, with all of them playing about 12-13 minutes, and it wasn't a waste having them on the ice. Still don't like seeing Stajan down with them, though.
- I love our goaltending tandem. Both goalies have performed extremely well so far this season. They are neat and good.
- I hate the third jerseys. The Flames have won, like, twice in them. All time. They are cursed and bad.
- As always, fuck Tampa Bay. Holy shit, fuck them all so hard.
Next game wishes
Unrealistic: Give us our Cup back you jerks. I hate you.
Realistic: Not sure why Colborne was the Flames' most played forward. Or why he was matched up against Stamkos. Backlund is the Flames' best centre, especially defensively, and Hartley should have had control of the matchup. C'mon. Backlund's the first line centre.
Welp. That sucked. In just a couple days though, the winless Carolina Hurricanes come to town. With the Edmonton Oilers finally accomplishing something last night, they're the only ones without a win, and Staal-less. Puck drop will once again be 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 23. See you then!