With a 7-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6, the Calgary Flames are going to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In a wild elimination game, the Flames clawed their way back from a three-goal deficit, eventually winning the game by three goals (thanks to two empty netters).
To fully appreciate how crazy this game was, let's take a period-by-period look at team shots and scoring chances.
According to the shot metrics, the Calgary Flames dominated the first period. They had twice as many scoring chances (6-3) and shots on goal (9-4) as the Canucks, and out-attempted them 17-12. Yet not even ten minutes into the game, the Flames found themselves down 3-0. Brandon McMillan capitalized on a juicy rebound in the slot to open the scoring for Vancouver two and a half minutes in. Five minutes later Jannik Hansen potted what was essentially a shorthanded goal, and two minutes after that Vancouver converted on a powerplay. Calgary was being blown out on home ice and by all accounts a Game 7 in Vancouver was inevitable. But don't tell the Flames that.
"Even when we're down we're still an excited group," Sean Monahan said after the game. "We have fun playing hockey, so we're down three-nothing, we know we have a special group here, we're not a team that's going to quit or give up so that's an exciting time."
Remember back in Peewee when wins and losses didn't matter and the goal was to have fun? If there ever was a stat that captured magic per 60, this is it.
In the second period it was Vancouver's turn to dominate the shot metrics yet lose ground on the scoreboard. A minute in, Monahan was able to build off the momentum of Michael Ferland's late first period goal to make it a 3-2 game. Calgary then weathered a stretch that saw the Canucks take 13 of the next 14 shot attempts, including 4 scoring chances. Then this happened:
Jiri Hudler to Johnny Gaudreau and it's a tied hockey game. However Vancouver was rewarded for all their pressure, regaining the lead on a Luca Sbisa wrist shot before the period was out.
The third is where the Calgary Flames came to shine, and they lit this city on fire. Earlier in the game their powerplay struggled to sustain pressure, but this was the third period, and this was Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Jiri Hudler. Shot pass by Johnny to Monny who tips it wide. Huds recovers and makes no mistake.
4-4 tie game.
With under five minutes to go and Vancouver's top line on the ice, Alex Edler's breakout pass up the middle fails, and David Jones turns the puck the other way. Counter attack. Jones gets a shot through and Ferland nearly gets the rebound. With the puck bouncing in the slot, Matt Stajan stops, waits a half second for the puck to settle, and buries it top corner. Heroic poise by the 31-year old.
Two empty netters later, Calgary Flames took this one by a final score of 7-4.
Player Contribution Rankings
Shots on Goal
The Sedins fall down the list when it comes to shots on goal, a testament to the Flames shot blocking ability. While Calgary has been consistently out-possessed this season, they do an incredible job of keeping shots to the outside (although allowing 18 even-strength scoring chances and 4 goals against is not going to win you a hockey game on most nights).
Scoring chances are where we get to see who made a true impact on the game. Henrik Sedin was the top contributor with 4, and we also see guys like Gaudreau, Hudler, Stajan, Bennett, and Monahan towards the top of the list.
The war-on-ice Shot Plots
Questions or comments about the stats I track? Let me know in the comments below!