Glen Gulutzan gave Andrew Mangiapane the start in his first regular season NHL game. He had an impact right away as he skated in on the left side and blasted one that Jeff Glass had a little bit of trouble with, but ultimately managed to freeze. Mangiapane’s first career shot was registered just 26 seconds into his first career game - if he can keep that up, he’ll have a long career ahead of him.
Glass looked really shaky to start and the Sean Monahan line nearly managed to capitalize right off of the faceoff. They were a bit unlucky as the puck went wide of Glass. No damage was done, but the Flames were certainly starting this one with the better play.
The Flames hit a bit of a dead spell from there as they were held without a shot attempt for nearly three minutes, but they resumed their dominance shortly thereafter. Chicago was held without any attempts themselves for three minutes. They Flames were clearly frustrating them as they had what should have been an easy zone entry, but went offside which lead into the first commercial break. Attempts were ten to four in favour of the Flames.
The Flames were doing a stellar job at maintaining possession in the zone and were stifling Chicago when they were trying to enter the zone. As a result, Chicago was held without a single shot attempt for six minutes and 49 seconds. That streak was finally snapped off of a bit of a broken zone entry by Chicago which nearly spelled disaster for Calgary. Toews had a shot right between the dots, but Smith made a very nice blocker save to keep the score even.
The teams hit the second commercial break with Calgary carrying a shot attempt ratio greater than three-to-one and could have easily had two or three goals if not for some misfortune. Up to this point, Mangiapane had looked like a stellar addition to the fourth line - Chicago clearly had to pay more attention to him than teams have had to do with Freddie Hamilton or Curtis Lazar which really opened up play for Matt Stajan and Troy Brouwer. Brouwer even had a nice zone entry pass to Stajan to gain the zone.
Chicago finally got some chances towards the end of the period and the Flames iced it on back to back plays. The excessive stoppages was benefiting Chicago, but ultimately the Mikael Backlund line got on the ice and was able to clear. Some slight back and forth play lead to Sean Monahan getting high-sticked in the face by Tommy Wingels which lead to the first power play of the game with just 29 seconds left in the period.
They wouldn’t wait until the period was over to capitalize. Chicago had cleared, but Mark Giordano picked up the puck and dished it out to Monahan who had it back behind the net. He quickly got it over to Matthew Tkachuk blocker side. Glass made the initial save, but he may have been clock watching and Tkachuk grabbed his own rebound and banked it off Glass to put the Flames up one to nothing with a second and a half left. Time expired and the Flames rightfully carried the lead into the locker room and Chicago had Glass to thank that it wasn’t a heck of a lot worse.
The Flames started off with the Backlund line and they responded by icing the puck off of the opening draw. That set the pace for Chicago who started things off much better this period. They had two shots in the first 30 seconds and that’s probably not the pace the Flames wanted to start off with.
Chicago had themselves a seven to three shot advantage to start the period until the Backlund line turned possession into Chicago’s end. Jaromir Jagr was robbed on a shot, but the Flames kept possession. Jagr had the puck back behind the net and he was hooked by Jordan Oesterle 4:12 into the period.
Once again they didn’t take long to capitalize. Johnny Gaudreau maneuvered his way around and found Tkachuk in the slot. He didn’t miss from there, scoring his second of the game to put the Flames up two to nothing.
They scored yet again shortly thereafter. This time Monahan found himself in the slot for the shot and he beat Glass to end a nine game goalless drought. Gaudreau picked up his second assist as the Flames scored two goals in a minute and five seconds and lead three-nil 5:47 into the second.
Unfortunately for the Flames Garnet Hathaway took an incredibly unnecessary penalty by boarding Alex DeBrincat which sparked Chicago on a bit of a comeback 44 seconds later. They didn’t manage to score on the ensuing power play, but they maintained possession and managed to shelf one past Mike Smith who was screened as Michael Stone had lost his man. Oesterle picked up the goal assisted by Brandon Saad and Vinnie Hinostroza with 12:23 remaining.
Chicago would get another one 55 seconds later. Toews got the puck right in Smith wheelhouse and Smith had no chance. He put it past him to make it a one goal game again as Oesterle picked up the assist and his second point of the night.
The Flames may have tried to sit on the lead a bit too much as Chicago was really carrying play. At the time of their third goal, shot attempts were 41 to 21 in favour of the Flames. By the time Chicago scored their second, shot attempts were 41 to 33. The Blackhawks were completely dominant in that short stretch.
Play normalized for the remainder of the period with Chicago having a one shot attempt advantage from there on out as neither team really had an advantage. Play dwindled down and the Flames had to be more than a little disappointed in themselves for letting Chicago back into this one. They deserved to be leading, but they really took their foot off the gas and it should have been by more.
The Flames were flat to start the period and at this point fans had to have been hyperventilating into a paper bag. Chicago came out strong, at one point narrowing that twenty shot attempt advantage down to just two. That culminated with Jagr hooking Toews 6:52 into the period.
The Flames rallied around their eldest statesman however with one of their best penalty kills since Michael Frolik went down. They actually outshot Chicago one to nothing. It was a thing of beauty to watch.
The fourth line had some stellar play shortly thereafter and had some nice sustained zone time. Stajan made a terrific play to keep the puck in the zone and shot it high on Glass. The puck rang around the glass and Tkachuk fanned on it leading to some really dangerous chances the other way.
Brandon Saad lead a two-on-one and fanned entirely. Smith wound up getting tackled by his own defenseman, but Richard Panik missed a wide open net. The Flames drew a couple of breaks there, but if there’s a team that’s owed them then it might be Calgary.
Down to the final five minutes and the Flames were in the defensive shell minus the defense part. They really could have used to be more aggressive in their attempts to get the puck out of the zone, but as it stood they were chipping it out and giving Chicago way too much sustained time. Chicago had evened the shot attempt totals at 58 all with four minutes left in the game.
Backlund was able to enter the zone and got the puck over to Tkachuk, but Tkachuk made a foolish cross-ice pass which resulted in a turn over. It would have been the perfect opportunity to kill some time, but it wasn’t meant to be. The next time down he dumped the puck in, but really he should have attempted to keep the puck. Shortly thereafter, Glass made a critical stop on a Gaudreau breakaway to keep the game in check.
Chicago had the net empty with a 1:55 remaining in the game. Giordano took a shot at the empty net and it drifted just wide for an icing penalty. Chicago capitalized on the ensuing faceoff nine seconds later as Saad shot it past Smith off the assist from Saad to tie the game at three all.
Neither team would score in regulation. There’s no other way to put it - the Flames choked this one a way with the failed defensive shell technique. This one was headed for some three-on-three.
Overtime didn’t last long. Tkachuk attempted to redeem himself by cutting in on Glass, but he missed. Chicago couldn’t get the puck out however and the captain ended it. Mark Giordano fired a perfect shot past Glass to ensure the Flames escaped the year with two points.
Happy New Year!
Third Star - Jonathan Toews - 1G, 1A, +24.11% CF Rel 5v5 S/V Adj.
Second Star - Matthew Tkachuk - 2G, 4iHDC, -9.94% CF Rel 5v5 S/V Adj.
First Star - Mark Giordano - GWG, 1G, 1A, +29.95% CF Rel 5v5 S/V Adj.