The Calgary Flames won their 8th game in a row, ending the 6 game win streak of the Montreal Canadiens. Brian Elliott stopped all 24 shots for his first shutout as a Flame and Johnny Gaudreau had a 4 point game. It was not all good news though, as Dougie Hamilton and Michael Stone both left the game with injuries and did not return.
Things had changed dramatically for the Calgary Flames since their 5-1 defeat to the Montreal Canadiens back in January. The team came into tonight on a current run of 12-2-1 since that game, the hottest team in the NHL. On a 7 game winning streak, they were facing a team who was riding a 6 game winning streak. The Flames had a lucky break going into the game, when it was announced a couple of hours before game time that Carey Price was not going to be fulfilling his scheduled start due to the flu, so backup Alvaro Montoya was in net.
Just like in recent games, the Flames had a solid first period. They generated a lot of shots and got on the board just over 7 minutes in. A nice breakout by the 3M/Gio-Ham quintet led to a beautiful set up from Matthew Tkachuk to Mark Giordano who wired one over Montoya’s glove to put the Flames up 1-0.
It was 1-0 Flames after the first and they dominated the shot clock 16-5.
The Flames continued their strong play in the second. Early in the frame, T.J. Brodie got around Jeff Petry and was alone against Montoya but lost the puck trying to deposit it into the open net. Then an unlikely scrap occurred. Former Flame Paul Byron and current Flame Kris Versteeg dropped the gloves, in a spirited effort. Thankfully, Versteeg’s jersey was tied down this time.
The Flames continued pressing and got their second goal. Strong work in the offensive zone led to the puck coming to Michael Stone at the point, who got the puck past a screen and by Montoya to make it 2-0 Flames. The goal was Stone’s first as a Flame.
The Canadiens started to push back after that goal, but then Steve Ott went after Matt Bartkowski, leading to scrap in what was likely an attempt to spark his team. It really did not work.
Sean Monahan’s 22nd of the season put the Flames up 3-0, picking up Michael Stone’s rebound and putting it in the open net. Just 26 seconds later, Johnny Gaudreau set up Micheal Ferland who sniped it high glove past Montoya to make it 4-0. Ferland is red hot, with 6 goals in the past 8 games.
Johnny Gaudreau picked up assists on all 3 goals in the period. The Flames were up 4-0 after 2 and were outshooting the Canadiens 27-16.
With a game that had so much good in it, two very bad things happened. Dougie Hamilton did not come out to start the third, as he was tangled up along the boards late in the second and injured his leg (possibly cut by a skate) and did not return. A major loss for the Flames would become even more dire, because early in the third, Michael Stone was hit up high and left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return either. Thus, the Brodano pairing was reunited for the third period, having to take heavy minutes along with the Bartkowski-Engelland pairing. Thankfully, they had a 4-0 lead to work with.
The Flames played simple hockey in the third, preserving their significant lead and not taking any risks while down two defensemen. They did an excellent job of locking the Canadiens down. The Flames would get goal #5 late, with Johnny Gaudreau getting his 4th point of the game, putting in Deryk Engelland’s rebound.
Brian Elliott shut the door all the way and the Flames dominated the Canadiens to a 5-0 victory. They were the significantly better team all night, outshooting Montreal 37-24.
Flames 3 Stars
- Johnny Gaudreau: Possibly the quietest 4 point night I have ever seen, but he made some nice plays and was rewarded. Now with 48 points in 57 games, he has really turned his season around.
- Brian Elliott: Elliott has been terrific this entire winning streak and tonight he finally was able to get his first shutout as a Flame. He was not tested a lot, but he made some nice saves when called upon.
- Michael Stone: Was having quite a good game and had a goal and an assist before leaving with an injury. Hopefully it is not too significant.
- This is the first eight game win streak for the Flames since the 2005-06 season. This is a fun time to be a Flames fan.
- It is a joy watching Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik work together on the penalty-kill. They are such intelligent players and they work perfectly together.
- I would wager that Matthew Tkachuk has been the team’s second best forward this season, after Mikael Backlund. He has been crazy good for a rookie. What a setup on the Giordano goal.
- Hopefully the injuries to Hamilton and Stone are not too serious, because they have both been playing really well and their absences would seriously impact the team’s defensive pairings. Both right-shot defenders, either one of them missing the next game will result in the return of Dennis Wideman to the lineup. If both are missing, someone is getting recalled from Stockton and coming into the line up (probably Kulak, with Brodie moving over to the right-side). Not really the ideal situation.
- Thankfully the team has been stacking up wins to the point that they have really gained some separation from the 9th place Kings. The Flames are now 10 points up on them, although Los Angeles has 2 games in hand at the time of writing (currently tied 1-1 with the Predators).
The Flames go for their 9th straight win on Saturday night in Winnipeg. How far can they push this streak?