The Flames welcomed the Arizona Coyotes to the Saddledome tonight for the second half of an unusual back to back pair of games that saw them snapping a four game slide in Minnesota last night. This was the first of five meetings with their Pacific division rivals, who were last place in the NHL heading into the game. Calgary was 1-3-1 vs the ‘Yotes last season.
The big story going in was Calgary’s star sniper Johnny Gaudreau was sidelined with a broken finger while the Coyotes welcomed back their number one goalie Mike Smith, who had not played since Oct 18th. Martin Hanzal also made his return to the lineup for Arizona after missing 5 games with a lower body injury.
Chad Johnson ( and his swanky new mask ) started his second straight game for the Flames.
The Coyotes jumped out to a 5-0 shot lead and carried the play through the first 10 minutes of choppy action, but had no real scoring chances to show for it. The shots they did manage to create were easily handled by Johnson, who looked to be carrying on his stellar play from last night.
The Flames woke up after a solid shift from their new top line of Monohan, Bennett, and Brouwer, that ended with a bit of jousting around the Coyotes net. Following that, the “ be angry” approach adopted by the Flames last night in Minnesota reappeared.
The shots were 8-5 in favor of the Coyotes at the end of a scoreless first period.
The Flames came on strong to start the second with several excellent chances on the first shift. Frolik walked out in front off a nice feed from Backlund, but was stoned by the right pad of Smith as he cut across the front of the net. Seconds later Brodie danced in from the point, but was unable to beat Smith, who used his 6”4’ frame to block Brodie’s top corner attempt. Despite not scoring, the Flames did earn a power play for all their hard work, but not surprising for Flames fans, the power play did not capitalize.
Frolik and Tkachuk had a nifty give and go play setting up Frolik in the slot shortly after ( with a little help from the linesman ) but Smith snapped it out of the air for his best save of the night.
Later on in the period Michael Ferland finished his check hard on Oliver Ekman-larsson slamming him into the boards as he attempted to dump the puck in. OEL left for the dressing room and did not return until the third period.
With five minutes left to go in the period, Mike Smith saw the Flames changing and threw the puck up the boards towards the bench, catching the Flames with too many men. It was a smart play by him putting the ‘Yotes on the PP, but again Johnson and the Flames PK held them off. Arizona’s PP is usually anchored by OEL who was in the dressing room at that point, thanks to Ferland.
It was a great period for the Flames who had 10 scoring chances to Arizona’s 1. But with 17 seconds left Johnson let out a juicy rebound. It was gathered and buried by Tobias Reider giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. Cruelly for the Flames, there could have been a too many men on the ice call against Arizona. It was a tough break for the Flames who had just killed off a too many men on the ice call against them.
The third period again started with a good scoring chance for the Flames. Wideman walked in from the point, but was unlucky when he hit the shaft of Smith’s stick on his shot.
At 6:40 of the third, off a scrambled draw, Matthew Tkachuk gathered the puck and let go a perfect shot right underneath the bar from .7 feet off the goal line to tie the game at one.
The Flames were again the better looking team in the third with a 10-3 lead in shots at one point in the period. However, thanks to Mike Smith, the Coyotes managed to hold on and get the game to overtime.
Forty-nine seconds into overtime Michael Frolik stole the puck off Brad Richardson, went in all alone on the breakaway and roofed his team leading 6th goal of the season to win it for the Flames.
The Good: Everything. Chad Johnson was fantastic making 20 saves. The 3rd and 4th line players again showed up in a big way. Matthew Tkachuk, Michael Ferland and Garnet Hathaway were a thorn in the side of the Coyotes all night long.
The Bad: Hmm...That was a juicy rebound let out by Johnson on the first goal, but he played so well throughout ( especially in the first few mins of the game when Arizona was dominating) the game I feel bad calling him out on anything.
The Ugly: I think that missed call was ugly. As it turns out it didn’t cost the Flames anything, but considering the Flames just killed off a too many men penalty, I think that should have been called.
Top to bottom great performance by the Flames, who move on to Chicago on Friday.