The Flames came back from being down a goal 3 times, and ended up defeating the Buffalo Sabres in overtime for their first win of the season, on this beautiful and proud day.
The Sabres opened the scoring 7:25 into the first, when T.J. Brodie turned the puck over in the defensive zone and Zemgus Girgensons (what a name) nicely tapped in a pass from Tyler Ennis that Chad Johnson had zero chance on. The Flames would respond before the period was up. With just under 4 minutes remaining in the opening frame, a great couple of shifts by the Flames led to Michael Frolik knocking in a rebound after a Brett Kulak point shot. There was a quick whistle while the puck was still loose, basically as Frolik knocked the puck in, so based on prior history in similar scenarios, it seemed as though the goal may be waved off. Instead, the referees conferred and made what was ultimately the right decision, it was just a surprising turn of events. It was Frolik’s third of the season, the team leader to this point. Brett Kulak also registered his first NHL point on the play with an assist, after having that Loui Erikkson goal taken away from him on Saturday.
The biggest bright spot in the first period was the 4th line, primarily Micheal Ferland, who came out flying from the start of the game and kept his intensity high throughout the entirety of the contest. The chemistry between him, Stajan and Chiasson was evident and it is just so refreshing to have a 4th line that is defensively responsible but can go out there and create scoring chances.
Shots were 15-6 Calgary in the opening period, the score was 1-1.
The second period was very choppy. A Matthew Tkachuk shot tipped by Sam Bennett went off the post early in the period, with Tkachuk still looking for his first NHL point. The first line was doing work as well, creating a lot of pressure in the offensive zone leading to 2 penalties being called at once against the Sabres. 5-on-3 powerplays are usually exciting. This one was not at all. After a couple decent chances, Giordano took a high-sticking penalty, and the 5-on-3 was over, with the Flames ultimately not scoring a goal. The powerplay needs some work.
The penalty-kill on the other hand looked very good, but an unfortunate bounce off of Dougie Hamilton led to the Sabres taking a 2-1 lead. The shots were 8-4 for the Flames in the period, but the Sabres had taken a 2-1 advantage.
Micheal Ferland would not be denied in this game. After a game full of great shifts, many shots and a lot of pressure, Ferland finally got on the board off a nice backhand shot in tight, to tie the game up a 2-2. The lead did not last long, as Marcus Foligno got around Deryk Engellend and put the Sabres back up. But something cool was about to happen...
Matthew Tkachuk took a pass from Matt Stajan, went into the Buffalo zone and fired one short-side past Robin Lehner for his first NHL goal, a big one to tie the game up. He had a fairly quiet game up until that moment, but he came alive after this. Seconds later, he laid a huge hit out on Sabres defender Jake McCabe. The following shift, he crushed Tyler Ennis, leading to a scrum, resulting in the Sabres’ Deslauries taking an additional roughing minor. Tkachuk can make things happen out there, it is too bad the team he draws penalties for has such a disastrous powerplay right now.
Although Chad Johnson allowed 3 goals in this game, he was overall solid and made some big saves, including stopping Marcus Foligno on a breakaway to keep it tied and denying Sam Reinhart late in the period.
It was 3-3 after regulation, thanks to Matthew Tkachuk’s goal, shots were 29-19 Flames.
The Flames had a great overtime and it was awesome to see them get rewarded for their efforts. Ryan O’Reilly, who was the best Sabres player in the game, almost won it for the Sabres after stealing the puck and going in on Johnson, but was unable to bury the puck. After a 2-on-1 that Backlund and Giordano failed to convert on, there were big chances for Gaudreau, Monahan and Brodie that were denied by Robin Lehner.
The Flames won the game on a sold all around shift by their best players. Sean Monahan knocked down Sam Reinhart behind the net, got the puck back to Mark Giordano, who got it down to Gaudreau, who passed it across 2-on-1 down-low to Monahan, who scored another in an already long line of OT goals in his career. 6 to be exact, tying him with Jarome Iginla who played quite a lot of seasons in Calgary. The Flames get their first win of the season, 4-3 against the Sabres.
Flames 3 Stars
- Micheal Ferland: Ferland had one of the best games I’ve seen him play outside of that series against Vancouver. He had 5 shots on goal, 3 hits, was third on the Flames in possession with a 72.22% CF at even-strength (hockeystats.ca). He also scored a nice goal. Keep that up Ferland, the Flames could really use that play.
- Matthew Tkachuk: Tkachuk was somewhat quiet earlier in the game, he was a big factor in the third period. His first NHL goal tied the game up, then he proceeded by throwing a couple massive hits and getting under the Sabres’ skin. If that first goal has got his confidence going, he may be sticking around.
- Backlund/Frolik: These guys are a package deal, they are always together and they are so key to the Flames’ success. Watching them kill penalties together is a thing of art, they are defensively reliable and after contributing offense again tonight, they maintain their positions of leading points scorer and goal scorer respectively.
- Winning is awesome.
- As mentioned before, the 4th line was extremely effective, with Chiasson, Stajan and Ferland leading the Flames in possession. It is such a huge benefit being able to rely on all 12 forwards to be able to take a regular shift, that is the sort of play we have hardly seen on a Flames’ 4th line in recent seasons.
- Who starts the next game? Johnson had a great game in Vancouver and a solid performance tonight, getting the Flames their only 3 points thus far. Elliott is a great goalie and will get back in soon, but I would not be surprised to see Johnson again on Thursday.
- I could write an entire article about how terrible the powerplay has looked but it would be far too painful. But if you watched the game, you know what I mean. Way too many issues for such a talented group of personnel available to use.
- The PK continues to look solid though, applying a lot of pressure has limited the amount of scoring chances surrendered.
- The D has looked so much better these past 2 games, with Grossman and Wideman out, I do not think we will be seeing them again soon.
- I do not think the Flames were that bad the first three games. There were bad players, bad plays and a bad powerplay, but as a whole they looked miles better than last year. Tonight they were rewarded for that. Hopefully some confidence will be taken from this win and success can be sustained moving forward.
- Finally, good for Curtis Glencross on the gig with Sportsnet. He was a great Flames for a few seasons, it was tough to see his career end the way it did, but it is nice to see him around again.
The Flames are now 1-2-1 and will be facing the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, time to get a bit of a streak going here.