Coming off a poor loss, the Calgary Flames came out roaring for this game, and it showed. They completely outplayed the Montreal Canadiens, but the bounces just didn't go their way, and Carey Price wasn't having any of it in a close, exciting game.
The game got off to a rather fast, physical start. With a lot of end to end rushes and a lot of hitting, it was a Calgary one that would kick off the first of several penalties for the period. Joe Colborne walked along the crease, and Price took that as his cue to fall over backwards, because something something snipers.
Montreal's first powerplay was killed, and about half a minute later it was PK Subban going off for interference against Lance Bouma. That powerplay soon became a 46 second 5 on 3, as while Jiri Hudler was working the puck along the boards, Alexei Emelin hauled him down. For some reason, Hartley sent out three defencemen - Mark Giordano, Kris Russell, and Dennis Wideman - at the start of the 5 on 3. They did not score.
The tail end of the Flames' second powerplay saw two great chances for both teams, with Johnny Gaudreau dancing his way up to get a slick pass to Curtis Glencross, who rang it off the outside of the post; that was followed up with a shorthanded Habs 2 on 1, which Jonas Hiller was sharp on, keeping the game scoreless.
And then Giordano went to the box for interference. That penalty was killed, and before the next one could be called, Dale Weise sprang Rene Bourque on a stretch pass that Hiller got his glove on. Bourque and Lars Eller would dance around the Flames' zone a bit, but couldn't get anything actually going.
Sean Monahan's line went on a rush, catching the Habs with greater numbers, and to counteract, Tom Gilbert ended up taking a hooking call on Hudler, bringing the scoring chance to a halt. Anyway, that powerplay, too, was killed.
The period's final few minutes were penalty-free. Paul Byron failed to score on yet another breakaway, but the frame still ended with the Flames generating more shots, outshooting the Habs 9-6, and out-corsiing them 15-12.
The second kicked off exactly the same as the first: penalties! Colborne and Alex Galchenyuk went off for hooking and holding the stick, respectively, just 19 seconds in. Mikael Backlund and Gaudreau combined for the first almost-goal of the game early on when Backlund chipped the puck up. Gaudreau took it down the wing, but fanned on his shot just as Andrei Markov took out Price. With the net coming off its moorings, Gaudreau had the strength to wrap the puck around out in front of the net. Backlund came in to poke the puck in, but the net was definitely off by that point, so the play was whistled dead.
Gaudreau wouldn't be stopped there, though. He was a force the rest of his shift, getting another two or three scoring chances off a turnover. He stayed out there throughout the 4 on 4, frequently stealing the puck from the Habs. It finally paid off when he stripped the puck just outside the offensive zone, and dished it off to Giordano, who absolutely rifled it past Price to put the Flames up 1-0.
And... he just kept doing it. It seemed every time Gaudreau was on the ice, he was setting up scoring chances, including a great spin-o-rama pass he made to Byron on a 2 on 1. Price was just barely able to stop Byron from scoring his second of the season.
The Calgary Gaudreaus were having a pretty good go of it throughout the second, until the Habs finally started controlling play in the Flames' zone. Hiller had no problems handling them, and when he did, the rest of the Flames were on the puck.
They got a few more chances when Giordano went off for roughing, but despite some decent puck movement, were unable to capitalize. They soon would after the powerplay expired, though. Bourque, being pressured by Matt Stajan, threw the puck out from behind the net. It landed on Gilbert's stick, and he immediately shot it and it went in, far side, just off the post, tying the game at 1.
The tides were turning as Montreal was racing back with a 2 on 1, but Max Pacioretty pointlessly tripped Giordano. The game went back to 4 on 4, as Giordano went off for embellishment. And that meant more Gaudreau! He was once again visible out there, but unable to add to the score.
With both penalties over, Pacioretty was sprang from the box, but the play was whistled offside. So he slipped the puck five hole on Hiller, of course - and was promptly mauled by a seriously unimpressed Flames team. He wasn't called for unsportsmanlike, but Eller soon went off for headshotting Russell centre ice for no reason.
The Flames got nothing done on the powerplay, possibly because Brandon Bollig was inexplicably on it. Still, Calgary controlled the puck throughout the period's final minutes, ultimately outshooting Montreal 25-11 and out-corsiing them 41-27, and 26-15 in the second alone. Montreal was lucky to be tied at this point.
The period started with the announcement that Colborne had suffered an upper body (probably wrist) injury, and would not return.
The Habs nearly took their first lead of the game early on, when Brodie gave the puck away, resulting in Brendan Gallagher and Pacioretty going on a 2 on 0. Hiller was just able to stop the puck at the line though, and kept the game tied at 1. Montreal kept it up over the start of the third, though, as it took the Flames a couple minutes into the period to get their feet under them again.
They soon enough did, though, and pretty much every player on the ice - and yes, Gaudreau especially - was combining the create chances that were just going wide or that the goalies were stopping. Even David Jones, in his return, created a couple of good chances, and nearly got a goal.
The fast pace was keeping up, until Jarred Tinordi hit Stajan knee on knee. He was immediately jumped by Jones and Glencross. The Flames came away with the powerplay, but down another player.
The Flames wouldn't score, but have no fear: PA Parenteau would give them yet another man advantage when he cross-checked Wideman in front of the Flames' net. The Flames wouldn't score this time, either, despite a few good chances - including Jones coming up alone in the slot - and, with time running out on a game the Flames had thoroughly controlled, the score remained tied at 1.
But, AGAIN. A poor line change for the Habs, and with just over two minutes to go, Emelin hauled down Bollig, of all people, to give the Flames their seventh powerplay of the game, and third in five minutes. Once again, though... they did not score, and the game went to overtime.
The Flames outshot the Habs 37-17, and out-corsied them 68-42 overall, 27-15 in the third alone.
Overtime was an incredibly tense affair, with both the Flames and Habs going back and forth and back and forth on excellent chances. Brodie, Backlund, and Gaudreau stood out in particularly great ways for the Flames, and guys like Glencross and Wideman had their moments as well. The five minute frame ended with several tense moments for the Flames, the result of dual giveaways by Byron, but the Flames were able to keep the Habs to the outside, and overtime ended without any more goals.
Final corsi stats: Flames 70, Candiens 47. Seventy. The Flames drove the puck towards the net 70 times. They deserved this one.
Hudler kicked off the shootout, trying to go out wide on Price, but Price stopped him.
The Habs sent out Galchenyuk to counter, but Hiller stayed with him and kept it out.
Monahan was out next for the Flames, but he shot it right into Price's glove.
David Desharnais was next for the Habs, but Hiller shut him out with ease.
Then came Gaudreau's first ever shootout try. It was an outstanding, skilled move, and he scored... on the rebound, so it unfortunately didn't count. Still. Dude probably needs to become a shootout regular.
Parenteau was the Habs' third shooter, and he snapped it past Hiller to win it for Carey Price. Just for Price - because let's be honest here, absolutely no other Hab deserved the victory.
Flame of the game
Oh, this one isn't even close: Johnny Hockey himself. This was his best game yet. Every time he stepped on the ice, he was controlling the puck and creating chances. In the lead up to his assist on Giordano's goal, he seemed to singlehandedly control the puck and constantly strip it from the Habs constantly. Gaudreau clocked in six shots and four takeaways over 16:10 of ice time, and had just under four minutes of powerplay time as well. His 75% CF was tops among the Flames as well. He was simply magical, and just think: this is just the beginning, he's only going to get better.
- Jones' return after sitting out for nearly three weeks: 11:49 of ice time, closer to the fourth line and bottom defence pairing than anything else. He still managed three shots in that time, though, and had a couple of scoring chances, although he wasn't able to capitalize. His fancy stats weren't bad either, with a 50% CF over a 33% offensive zone start. He wasn't great, but he wasn't terrible, either.
- Wideman's goal scoring streak is snapped at four games. The Flames seemed to be forcing him a lot, including putting him as the third defenceman on a 5 on 3 powerplay, which was just silly. Nothing came of it, of course.
- Russell played a team-high 29:02, while Brodie was out there for 28:26. Wideman and Giordano were both out there for about 26 minutes each. That left Ladislav Smid and Deryk Engelland to mop up with just around 11 minutes. But please, someone try to justify Engelland's contract.
- From ice time leaders to shot leaders: Giordano had seven. Gaudreau and Glencross had six each. Monahan followed up with four, Russell and Jones three, and the rest of the team ranged from two to none.
- The Flames had 14 minutes' worth of powerplay this game, including some 5 on 3 time. Glencross, Hudler, and Russell all led the way with over eight minutes of ice time spent on the man advantage. Monahan and Wideman had over seven minutes, Giordano and Brodie over six. Um, they went 0-for-7, by the way, so maybe that wasn't working too well. And... Backlund only received 30 seconds. Did it seriously not occur to Hartley to maybe put one of his best centres on the powerplay when said powerplay wasn't scoring at all? Why wouldn't you do that? What do you have to lose?
- Josh Jooris was seeing next to no ice time until Colborne went down. Maybe Colborne will be out a while yet, maybe not - we don't know yet.
- Stajan's injury looked bad though. Like, injury reserve, time to call someone up bad. I'd have to think it would be Markus Granlund getting the call. He was one of the best Flames prospects throughout preseason, he's currently second in Adirondack scoring with three goals and five points over eight games (Michael Ferland leads, with three goals and seven points through eight), and he's naturally a centre. He was making a case to start the year in the NHL; it looks like this could very well be his window to come back up.
Next game wishes
Unrealistic: Is Bollig ever going to go away? He's shown next to nothing over 11 games now. He inexplicably got just as much powerplay time as Backlund. He started 100% of his shifts in the offensive zone and yet was one of the worst on the team with a 28% CF. He's. Simply. Not. Good. As long as "always earned, never given" is going to be the Flames' motto, Bollig is there to disprove it. I don't care how far off the wagon Devin Setoguchi has fallen; there's no way he could be any worse. And that's to say nothing of the prospects that outperformed Bollig back in September. This is ridiculous.
Realistic: Keep playing Gaudreau. Play him more. And it looks like we're on the way towards that, with increased ice time ever since he was scratched, and additional powerplay time. Now: give him more of it. We all saw what Gaudreau did during those 4 on 4 moments. He was amazing. When he has more open ice to work with, it's just a whole other level to watch. He saw a bit of ice in overtime, too, but probably should have been sent out earlier. So... just play him more. He's actually earning it, and he's only going to get better.
Well. The Flames are probably going to play like they deserve to lose more often than like they deserve to win this season, but this wasn't one of those times. Calgary should have had this one, and they didn't, and that sucks. Onwards we go: back to the 'Dome, on Halloween, at 7 p.m. MT, when the Nashville Predators come up north. We'll see how that one goes.